All addictive behaviors have something in common: the ability to impact neurochemical changes in brain chemistry. Dopamine and norepinephrine are chiefly responsible for creating the “brain high” that makes you feel so good. People sometimes try to create an artificial distinction between behaviors and the consumption of substances. Not so. The act of creating ANY pleasurable sensation ALSO creates a chemical change in the brain. Anything that feels good can become addictive. The initial choice to engage in a behavior or use a substance is yours. In most people, however, the easy choice is soon replaced by a less voluntary and more compulsive pattern of use. ( Greenfield, David N., PhD. Virtual Addiction. pp 44-49. CA: New Harbinger Publications, Inc, 1999.)

Studies over 3 decades: Structural and functional brain changes occur with repeated drug abuse. Extensive brain changes can include damage to nerve cells and altered biochemical mechanisms in communication pathways. (Zickler, Patrick. Acute Dopamine Surge May Erode Resolve to Abstain. MD: National Institute on Drug Abuse, NIDA NOTES, Vol 19, No 1, April, 2004, pp S1 – S16)

Early experiences (nurture) in early life affects gene expression, neural pathways, and brain function. This shapes:

  • Temperament and social development
  • Language and literacy capability
  • Perceptual and cognitive ability
  • How we cope with our daily experiences
  • Physical and mental health and behaviour and addiction in adult life
  • Physical activity and performance (e. g., skiing, skating, swimming)

(Mustard, J. Fraser, MD. Early Childhood Development: How does experience in early life affect brain development? 2008. pp. 15.)

Rehearsing a new alternative with emotional intensity creates a new highway in the brain. (Robbins, Anthony. Awaken the Giant Within. NY: Fireside, 1991, pp 136-140)

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