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    • New science tells us how to better manage our addictions.

      Some very intriguing information about all kinds of addictions: alcohol, drugs, smartphones, sex, video games, caffeine, food, gambling, social media, shopping, exercise, etc.

      I had not thought about myself as having an addiction. But as I read this article I decided I might need to think seriously about a couple....

      ‘If it didn’t make you feel better, you wouldn’t pursue it. The mammalian nervous system evolved to tell us something.’

       Keith Humphreys, a Stanford professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences says “That’s why cocaine is addictive and broccoli isn’t—because there are receptors in the brain primed for cocaine..."

      "Pleasurable activities tip into a dangerous zone when they become risky or prevent someone from engaging in a normal social, recreational or professional life. 'People say, ‘I’m addicted to my smartphone,’ but central to the definition of addiction is harm,' Humphreys says. 'So, I check my cell phone 100 times a day, but I never check it with my kids in the car—that’s not addiction.'" 

    • My key takeaway is:

      Initially, people trying to kick a habit experience all the signs and symptoms of withdrawal: depression, irritability and agitation. The good news is, if people abstain for a month, they usually feel better. 

      That is my life's mantra that involves everything, especially eating. You change and get into new habits if you can survive the first 30 days.

      That doesn't seem to work for most people wrt weight loss tho. For almost everyone, the weight comes back.

    • I think we are confusing different situations.

      "Kicking the habit" is a phrase frequently used to describe quitting the use of tobacco (aka nicotine). Nicotine is one of the most habituating drugs known to man ( higher rates of continued use than with heroin ) - notice I didn't say "addicting". Nicotine users, typically, actively seek to continue using nicotine - getting a smoke - BUT they can quit at any time of "their choosing" without any significant health issues. The may/will feel a bit anxious, they may be more hungry, and they may be mildly agitated but they will continue to be able to work and perform their daily activities, and their cognition will not be impaired. Their agitation gradually abates and they return to normal health ( absent long term usage injuries from the smoke ).

      As opposed to truly addicted individuals - like heavy alcohol users. A severe alcoholic CANNOT stop drinking acutely without risking a serious, life threatening, medical emergency - delerium tremens. They lose fine motor control, they frequently see hallucinations, they are agitated or pathologically anxious, and may get a severe fever, they frequently have seizures, and they can and do occasionally die. Sometimes even in a hospital, the mortality rate can run as high as 10%.

      This is the fundamental difference between habituation - like with nicotine - and addiction - like with alcohol. Stopping an addiction-causing drug cold-turkey can result in serious health and medical issues. 

      To call habituated use of cell phones or VR goggles, or other modern technologies addicting I think is incorrect. No one that I know of thinks stopping playing video games or stopping using your iPhone will kill you. It might damage your social life ( or one might think that it might ) but no one dies from it. One can still walk and work without seeing their iPhone - but without their alcohol or opioid of choice, addicted folks rapidly become very ill - at least temporarily. 

      I read the article in the Stanford Magazine, and I understand at least a little bit about the receptors in the brain for cocaine, or glutamine, on opiate-like agents, but the fact remains that behaviors like video game playing don't cause the addicting changes that alcohol or opiates do, We all know this, if we stop to think about it carefully. Whether we call them cocaine receptors in the brain or conditioned responses, I think we're talking about the same thing for most non- truly addicted folks. 

      Bad habits - can be stopped - simply by making the decision to stop them. Not a decision many folks really "want to make" - ask RJ Reynolds. But they can.

      Whereas truly addicting drugs cause significant deep changes in the brains and bodies of the users that make stopping them very dangerous and distressing - to the extent that most users are incapable of withdrawal without medical and other assistance, and long term support. 

    • Interestingly you CAN be addicted to chocolate. Our language allows for both definitions of the word addicted (1). I found your explanation of the effects of drug addiction versus habituation interesting. I knew of the DTs in severe alcoholics in withdrawal, and once observed someone going through it at an all night diner, but I was oblivious to the other harmful reactions including death. I agree that the researchers should have used a different word to distinguish drug addiction from a hard to control craving for snickers. It is interesting that the research over drug addiction is helpful towards combatting unwelcome daily habits.

      (1). Merriam-Webster Dictionary

    • My point exactly re: your link to Mirriam Webster - addiction as used by the public has two different, and confusing and even contradicting, meanings, whereas the usage I described was straight from two pharmacology text books - eg Drill's Pharmacology, and Goodman and Gilman's The Pharmacological Basis of Therapeutics 12 edition

      The distinction is important because the increasing dosage of a drug for a given therapeutic response, eg: drug dependence is a normal and expected response to many drug therapies with opiods, beta blockers, antidepressants, benzodiazepines, and barbituates. These drug dependencies are not addiction, and can easily be removed by small decreasing dosages during drug withdrawal.

      Addiction, the compulsive, out of control drug seeking behaviour, is a seperate unique phenomenon. seen with alcohol, opiods and cocaine typically. In cocaine users, only about 16% go on to uncontrolled usage according to Goodman and Gilman. But true addiction cannot be simply removed by abrupt withdrawal of the agents without exposing the patients to real serious medical risks. To imply that the cessation of video gaming or cell phone access is in anyway similar to abrupt drug withdrawl is simply false. There is no comparison even remotely.. Just as quitting smoking is mildly agitating ( I speak from personal experience with regard to tobacco only ) but basically harmless. That is not true for true drug addictions.

      I, also, am a chocolate craver, but I know that I will not die if I don't get it each day. Nor will I have seizures and bite my tongue off. But the day might be perceived to be the much less satisfactory....