The power of addiction is primarily related to its effects on the body. Addiction is not just psychological; addictive substances can actually change the way your brain functions.
The brain controls human activities, using a series of signals to satisfy the body’s basal needs. For example, a dangerous situation, like a hot stove, sends pain signals to deter further contact, while fulfilling basic needs, like eating and sleeping, stimulates pleasurable sensations. Over time, these signals grow to affect all areas of life, using past behaviors to determine future motivations. This mechanism can cause changes in how the body processes stimulation, choosing to put great emphasis on substances or activities that provide above average levels of pleasure.
In time, this pattern of pleasurable signals can create a dependency on these activities, resulting in the initial stages of an addiction. When this occurs, individuals must have access to these substances to feel normal, triggering intense desires and cravings that are extremely hard to overcome.
Many Substances take this concept one step further and actually change the way the brain releases and uses neurotransmitters like GABA and dopamine. Excessive drug and heavy alcohol abuse can negatively affect the structure of the brain, leading to a physical addiction that may require medication to reverse or mitigate.