addictionAddiction steals your joy, hijacks your plans, destroys your family and can ruin your life. It is more complicated than just overindulging in an activity or substance that boosts your mood and doesn’t want to let up. Addictions are psychiatric disorders that require treatment. In order to fully understand addiction, it’s important to understand the three phases.

Phase 1: Binge

When you take an addictive drug, or participate in any other addictive behavior, dopamine and other neurotransmitters are released, which then signal the brain that the person has received a reward. Over time, dopamine begins to be released in anticipation of the addictive behavior or drug. It is during this time that the brain associates the reward feeling with the drug or addictive behavior, which can create powerful cravings and prompt a binge.

Phase 2: Withdrawal

Your brain begins to reset the reward system, making it difficult to experience pleasure without the drug or addictive behavior. When you don’t participate in the addictive behavior or ingest the drug, the body begins going into withdrawal. It is during this time that you begin to do the drug or preferred activity simply to avoid the feelings of withdrawal.

Phase 3: Preoccupation

You become more and more obsessed with the drug or addictive behavior. Although you may be fully aware that the addiction is ruining your life, it’s all you can think about. You become unable to function without it and are always looking for the next fix.

Addiction isn’t limited to substances like drugs or alcohol can be devastating The brain reward and reset mechanisms that underlie binge, withdrawal and preoccupation can be used to understand a number of behaviors that can spiral out of control such as eating, shopping, internet use, and video gaming.

If you or someone you love is struggling with an addiction, we are here to help you. To learn more or to schedule an appointment, please call us at 860.648.9755.

To getting you back to your best self,
Lori Calabrese, MD
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