The Brain And Genetics In Addictive Behavior

The Brain And Genetics In Addictive Behavior
Written by Carol Combs

To get an idea how addiction can be overcome, and why addictive behavior manifests, you would do well to brush up on neuroplasticity.

Breakthroughs In Biology Reveal Old Truths

Neuroscience is revealing astonishing things about how the mind works. To get an idea of how addiction can be overcome, and why addictive behavior manifests, you would do well to brush up on neuroplasticity. Essentially, this is how neurons grow in the brain, and specifically the mind’s ability to forge new neural pathways.

Repetition actually “rewrites” how your brain works. When you do something for an extended period of time, this is going to ultimately end up physically rewiring the organic infrastructure of your mind. Ultimately that will affect you on an epigenetic level. Essentially, epigenetic studies revolve around how our activity influences our biology.

It turns out that how you think and what you think result in how you act—in what you ultimately do. When you repeat things, you rewire your entire body from the genetic level in a way ultimately reflecting your activity. This can be done to good purpose, and it can be done in a way ultimately harming you.

One more thing before we get on where addiction fits in. Stress erodes telomerase from DNA. In a nutshell, telomerase has to do with the aging process. As you age, telomerase “unravels” in a way similar to how tape at the end of a shoestring eventually quits keeping the fibers together. Negative activity increases telomerase loss through stress. Positive activity defers it.

The Addiction Scenario

If you eat right and exercise regularly, pushing your limits and carefully managing food intake to the healthiest sources, you will be able to push your body to its potential zenith. As we’ve seen with bodybuilders, this can mean some astonishing things. There’s even a balance which can be overruled, and that’s the point here: balance.

Even fitness can be done to an extreme, and this is sort of what initiates addiction: doing something that may have some level of good past an extreme. All people can be snared by one kind of an addiction or another; some are more prone to it than others, but repeated activity changes how your brain works, and the very makeup of your DNA epigenetically.

If you habitually drink after work, your body will become acclimatized, and eventually you’ll have to drink more to get less of a buzz, predicating increased need for alcohol. Eventually you’ll start straining your liver, and your body will compensate as best it can by becoming physically dependent on alcohol. Relying on such a substance will induce subconscious, conscious, and physical stresses into your bodily “system”, reducing telomerase from your DNA, and facilitating swifter aging.

Alcoholics and tweakers tend to be affected they look the same when addiction finally steals their very lives. Smokers also age quicker, and experience additional physical stresses that are well known now—such as cracked skin and yellow fingernails. Even those who are addicted to food exhibit signs of stress and genetic shift. This is visible in size: obesity.

Steps To Recovery

Addiction is a form of imbalanced, perpetual, habitual behavior. However, just as addictions can be established through psychology, action, pattern, physical acclimation, and repetition, so can addictions be broken. The key is taking the time to establish patterns of good behavior which diminish stress and encourage harmonious physical and mental functionality.

In twenty-one days, your mind is going to establish new neurological pathways in the brain. But to get yourself in a place where you can establish that pattern reliably, you might want to examine these seven addiction steps toward recovery.

Essentially, you’ve got to acknowledge your addiction, determine if you need help, research options, detoxify yourself as completely as possible, seek a professional setting for recovery, transition out of that recovery, then follow-up with professionals and maintain your course.

Implications Of Repeated Good Behavior For Lasting Change

Twenty-one days won’t be enough to effect total change. Yes, on a physical level, neurological pathways are commonly formed in twenty-one days—three multiples of seven. There is other data which suggests repetition of action in multiples of seven results in the establishment of memory.

However, if you don’t keep repeating memorized data, or interacting with it, it will fade. Likewise, after twenty-one days spent establishing and reinforcing good habits, if you don’t keep up with them, they’ll fall by the wayside. It’s just like with working out, practicing an instrument, or with the pursuit of a lucrative career.

To reach gains, you must establish good patterns of activity, keep at them, and even push yourself as possible. In terms of addiction recovery, this may involve relieving yourself of the need to indulge in more and more areas of negative activity. The addictions which bind us aren’t always straightforward.

Surprising Addictions

Technology itself can be negative for a person’s mental health in the same way many other addictions are. In some places there are people who have died from playing video games too long, crazy as that sounds.

Even emotional addictions exist; and anyone who has been in a profoundly dysfunctional relationship may understand this. A person can become addicted to rage, and they can become addicted to anonymous intimate interaction.

But in almost every case, that to which a person is addicted has some valid purpose, and the addiction results from pursuit of that good above all else, until it becomes an evil. This is a tongue-in-cheek observation, but even the love of a mother can be pushed out of context if it stifles children from functioning independently. All good things can be taken to excess, and there is balance to be found. Yet there’s light at the end of the tunnel.

Enabling Yourself To Grow, And Attain Greater Strengths

Just as learning to ride a bicycle gives is something you always remember, learning to live in balance with the world around you genetically can be the same. Such activity enables you, from the molecular level, to maintain what balance you find with greater precision and less difficulty.

As an added bonus, this eliminates the majority of stresses, and can even allow you to enjoy old things which destroyed you before, but under the temperate penumbra of moderation. This won’t be the case with all cases of addiction. But the link between behavior, genetics, the brain, and addiction is all bound up in habitual repetition. Basically, you reap what you sow, literally, physiologically, and psychologically. So learn to sow balance into the garment of your life, and it will fit you like a glove.

Identity Magazine is all about guiding women to discover their powers of Self-Acceptance, Appreciation, and Personal Achievement.

We ask that every contributor and expert answer the Identity questions in keeping with our theme. Their answers can be random and at the moment or they can be aligned with the current article they have written. In that way, and as a team, we hope to encourage and motivate each other, thus inspiring you to Get All A’s.

1. Think about what have you accepted within your life, physically and/or mentally? Additionally, what are you still working on accepting? Now, we’re not talking about resignation, rather stepping into, embraced, and owned.

I believe that accepting not being a perfect person is the beginning of becoming one. Life continues to throw opportunities at us to learn from our mistakes in order to better ourselves. I have my own share of hardships and successes and I am happy that I am on a learning curve and improving myself.

2. What have you learned to appreciate about yourself and/or within your life, physically and mentally? On the other hand OR in contrast, are there elements of who you are that you’re still working on appreciating?

Earlier I used to have intermittent bouts of anger and frustration with regards to my work and relationships, but gradually I started to overcome my insecurities and inhibitions. The fact that I know I have many weaknesses yet have the ability to make things better — is the biggest appreciation I have for myself.

3. What is one of your most rewarding achievements in life? Tell us not only what makes YOU most proud but also share the goals and dreams that you still have.

My individuality and my attitude are the keys to unlock my own true potential to achieve something bigger in life. I think this is my most rewarding and enduring achievement.

Photo by jesse orrico on Unsplash

About the author

Carol Combs

Carol Combs has been in the fashion industry for over 10 years. A mother of one, latest vogue and fashion trends keep her living hale and hearty. She aims to impart herself knowledge and experience to refine the look of womenfolk to look better than ever.

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