Think of an experience that makes you feel good. It could be successfully completing a project at work, eating a hot cookie with chocolate chips, or having a shot of whiskey. It could be a cigarette puff or a shopping trip. A dose of Vicodin or a dose of heroin.
Those experiences don't automatically lead to addiction. So what makes a particular habit or substance an addiction? What drives some people to seek these experiences, even if they are costly or harmful to their health and relationships? In the 1930s, when researchers began investigating what caused addictive behavior, they believed that people who developed addictions were somehow morally defective or lacked willpower. Although everyone's path to addiction is different, whether they try a drug or behavior, because that's what that person's parents or peers do, or just out of curiosity, what's common in all substance and behavioral addictions is their amazing ability to increase levels of a chemical substance important in the brain. called dopamine, Boyle told Live Science.
A combination of these three mechanisms and the risk factors for addiction can lead to the development of an addictive disorder. Scientists now call it the brain reward region and have confirmed its role as the addiction pathway in countless animal studies (mainly rats and mice) and many brain imaging studies of human addicts. However, many researchers now reject physical withdrawal symptoms as a defining characteristic of addiction because it turns out that a drug can be powerfully addictive without causing serious withdrawal illnesses.