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The Science Behind: Addiction

Have you ever started to play a video game and found yourself coming back to it, over and over again? You're immersed in it, trapped in a parallel universe, and the only thing that matters is that game. You’re playing it when you’re supposed to be doing homework, spending time with your family, eating, etc.

I’m sure all of you have experienced this. This is called addiction and it happens for everything- not only video games. You can be addicted to anything, from candy and chocolates to shopping and fast food.

Why does it happen? Is there a scientific reason behind addiction?

After some in-depth research, I found multiple causes of addiction. But what I extracted from all of these causes was that addictions either give us a sense of comfort or make us feel better. Because of this, our brains convince us to give in to our addictions repeatedly. It becomes a habit, and soon, we find it difficult to stop.

Have you ever wanted a piece of candy and wanted more right after you finish it? Why is that? This happens because when you eat the candy, the chemical dopamine releases in your brain and makes you feel “good”. After eating the candy, your brain realizes that by eating candy, it can get a reward- the sweet flavor. To receive that reward, your brain convinces you to eat more candy, and more, and more, until it becomes a habit. The longer the habit goes on, the more necessary that habit becomes to you, and soon it becomes an addiction.

Another reason why people get addicted is the substance itself. Some substances contain chemicals that target the brain, so they are highly addictive. A few examples are steroids, drugs, and even medical pills. But why do these drugs become so addicting? We know that these substances are harmful to us and our bodies, but we would think that our bodies would know better, right? If something is harmful to our health, why would our bodies allow us to get addicted to it? There’s science behind this, too.

These substances are responsible for releasing a chemical called dopamine into our brains. Dopamine, in simple words, makes you feel happy. So, when we smoke cigarettes or take pills, we are ultimately harming our own bodies, but the dopamine helps cover that up, and all we feel is happiness. Our brains link that happiness to the substance we take. This makes the nervous system and the brain want to take in the substance again and again until it becomes an inescapable routine. Soon, our bodies become so dependent on the substance that without it, it seems like we cannot function.

I came across this article about weird addictions while researching. It is fascinating, so take a look at it if you have time! Anyway, I hope all of you learned something new from this article and had a fun time reading!

We’ll meet again till the next dive into science,

Anish Baghel


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