Fri Feb 11th, 2022
Tags: Addiction, Behavioral Addiction, mental health, Native Connections Program, Precious Collins, Southern Ute Behavioral Health
Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. It is a holiday that was originated by Pagans who celebrated a patron saint named St. Valentine. The story goes that in Ancient Rome, Emperor Claudius II outlawed marriage for young men because single men made better soldiers. A priest named Valentine continued to perform marriages in secret and was put to death by the emperor. Love being the symbol behind St. Valentine’s actions, leading to the theme of the month itself, reminded me that love is just as potent of a drug as any other. The hurt and pain that being in love causes for some is similar to the pain alcohol and drugs can cause.
Insanity can be defined as “doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results” (Cerf et al., 2019, np). Whether it was Einstein or Narcotics Anonymous that first made the statement, a broken heart causes more emotional pain than almost anything else. Despite such pain, human beings continue to fall in love after the pain subsides. This is reminiscent of an opioid addict using drugs after detoxing in jail. Love is a powerful drug, and behavioral addictions are real.
What is a behavioral addiction? According to Hardey et al. (2021), a behavioral addiction is “the compulsion to continually engage in an activity or behavior despite the negative impact on the person’s ability to remain mentally and/or physically healthy and functional in the home and community.” Sex and love addiction is a primary example of a behavioral addiction. Other examples of behavioral addictions include gambling, shopping, pornography, food, and gaming. These behaviors effect the pleasure centers in the brain just like drugs and alcohol.
When those pleasure centers aren’t activated through a “fix,” psychological withdrawal follows. The “likes” people receive on social media are perfect examples of a behavior that is affecting the reward pathway in the brain. To elaborate, the pathway initially begins by a person posting something on Instagram. They feel good because of the anticipation of the likes they will get. Their neurotransmitters start firing and flooding their brain with feel-good hormones. A few minutes go by, and they don’t feel that way anymore, so they check social media again for “another hit.” Their phone essentially becomes their crack pipe.
Addiction is not limited to just drugs or alcohol. Anything that feels pleasurable can become addictive. Addiction begins by someone trying to escape or cope with pain or discomfort. They generally turn to what they know makes them feel better. Whether it be food, sex, beer, or smack; it all starts off good until it leads to “insanity.” If you or someone you know is struggling with any of these issues, please contact Southern Ute Behavioral Health for an assessment. People don’t have to hit rock bottom if they decide to stop digging!
If you need to talk to someone, please reach out.
It’s okay not to feel okay. If you or someone you know has been struggling with their emotions, behaviors, or substance use please reach out to us. We can help you find appropriate tools and services that could help you overcome obstacles in your life. We are here for you. Please contact the Southern Ute Behavioral Health Division or the Native Connections Program at 970-563-5700 for more information or to set up an appointment to see a counselor or therapist.
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