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  • Writer's picturefrederique STREF

Few words on addiction

Addiction is a complex process that develops through an interaction between a substance or behaviour and a vulnerable subject. There are two types of vulnerability. One, intrinsic, which includes biological, psychological or behavioural factors (impulsivity, difficulty in controlling behaviour). The other, extrinsic, includes family culture (families of drinkers or smokers), experiences and stages of life (going through adolescence, experiencing tragedies) but also socio-economic factors (such as precariousness).

Behavioural addictions such as gambling and substance addictions such as alcohol or drugs, both activate the same circuit in the brain, linked to the production of dopamine known as the pleasure hormone. This overproduction alters the normal functioning of the brain.

The use or absorption of substances can lead to dependency and long-lasting behaviour such as gambling, hours spent on the phone, game console or computer which also cause physiological changes. The addiction can persist despite withdrawal. Probably because the emotional memories remain persistent despite abstinence. This explains why a smoker may still have the urge to smoke fifteen years after quitting. In most cases, the act of taking up one cigarette leads to many more. The same is true for drugs or alcohol. The risk of relapse may be lower for non-produced addictions because behavioural addiction probably does not alter brain activity to the same extent, as the brain remains more plastic.

Addiction is not the result of a guilty lack of willpower. Its causes are multiple: a depressive temperament, a compulsive and impatient nature, a restricted emotional life. And also, to a certain extent, fragility.

It is clear that despite insurmountable efforts, no one affected can get out of it alone, it is not a question of willpower, except to seek help for a "deprogramming" and a "reprogramming" of certain beliefs, but above all to create space in the first instance to no longer suffer the obsession.

New pathologies linked to addictive behaviours, to excesses, seem to emerge regularly. Walking down the street is like being surrounded by near-zombies, indifferent to others, eyes fixed on their phones or tablets, unable to stop texting even when crossing the street.

In big cities, there are now refuges for emotional and sexual addicts who cannot resist their impulses, take the time to desire and consider the desire of the other. Almost one out of two smokers has not been able to quit, knowing that smoking is the first cause of avoidable death. According to statistics, almost 6% of consumers cannot help but go into debt to acquire and accumulate objects they do not need. And more and more consumers are gambling.

Have we become incapable of seeking pleasure without immediately turning this quest into an addiction? Why this explosion of addictions and behaviours marked by impulsivity and loss of control? First of all, we live in a society where consumption and possession are vital imperatives, where frustration is intolerable. And where new objects of "pleasure" appear constantly. Now, any new thing in this field is likely to give rise to a new addiction: an attempt to obtain even more pleasure from this thing, this product, this activity.

Helping a person suffering from the consequences of an addiction requires a high level of tolerance and empathy, outside of any moral or ideological injunction.

Acquiring freedom from the product or behaviour that pollutes one's life is certainly the most edifying, the most gratifying in the face of the inability to control oneself, as in compulsive buying, bulimia or the relationship to casino games linked to excessive anxiety and bad habits.

Abstinence requires in-depth work that covers a very broad spectrum of all stages of life, all affects, emotions and feelings.

In the course of psychoanalysis, the client may link his or her awareness of uncontrollable urges such as taking a hit or smoking a cigarette, when the initial pleasure has become suffering, when the negative effects outweigh the positive, to the primary lack of attachment that nourishes emotionally, emotionally and spiritually and to the lack of primary narcissism (not to be confused with pride or pretension).

We may all have small addictions because we all suffer from deficiencies, because normality does not exist, because we need derivatives, consolation, because the human being is driven by the pleasure principle more than by reason. And that above all "we depend on others to exist". The belief in an absolute independence is an aberration.

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