The complex interplay of the reward centers of the brain, experience with an addictive substance, and the neurochemical changes that result dictates the formation of addiction. Addiction can actually create neural networks that bypass rational thinking and stress is an important moderator of whether or not something becomes addictive once experienced. Recently we reviewed this fascinating article by Harvard Medical Publishing about how addiction hijacks the brain.
The article states: “Nobody starts out intending to develop an addiction, but many people get caught in its snare. According to the latest government statistics, nearly 23 million Americans — almost one in 10 — are addicted to alcohol or other drugs. More than two-thirds of people with addiction abuse alcohol. The top three drugs causing addiction are marijuana, opioid (narcotic) pain relievers, and cocaine.”
Luckily there are treatments such as neurofeedback and EMDR Therapy Feeling State Addiction Protocol (FSAP) that can reduce cravings and addictive behaviors instead of just using willpower or substitution to treat addictions. Read more about addictions here in this compelling article.