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Understanding the Psychology of Addiction

To fully understand the psychology of addiction, you must identify how addiction is created.

An addiction is a habit that becomes profoundly entrenched and self-perpetuating over time. This habit rewires the circuitry of the brain as it is repeated over and over again. By repeating a highly pleasurable experience, the neurons become altered and adjust to become increasingly efficient at the new experience, causing a person to crave that habit. Over time, that habit becomes an addiction. 

Fortunately, there are ways to create new healthier habits that can reframe and replace the unwanted and harmful patterns of addiction. Still, we must first address the causes and risk factors behind the psychology of addiction.

Causes and Risk Factors of Addiction

The root cause of addiction can involve many different factors, but being exposed to family members that have addiction problems during early adolescence can influence substance use later in life. However, addiction can also be caused due to emotional and behavioral childhood trauma as a consequence of growing up in a home with substance use.

Once the root cause takes effect, the brain is directly affected by the substance or behavioral source. Even though the use of a substance or behavioral choice was voluntary at first, the psychology of addiction shows that over time and continued use, this voluntary action is no longer a choice, but rather it is now a dependency.

Other causes and risk factors for addiction can include:

  • Environment Growing up in an addiction-filled household can play a huge role and peer pressure.
  • Having a mental health disorder like depression and PTSDOne of the harmful coping mechanisms people use to deal with depression or the panic attacks due to PTSD is self-medicating through drugs and alcohol. 

Having an “addictive personality” is another risk factor in the psychology of addiction. An addictive personality means you are prone to addiction, so even if you avoid opioid use because your parent was addicted, you may seek alternatives such as alcohol, which are just a few forms of addiction.

Different Forms of Addiction

There are many subforms to addiction, but there are two primary forms: physical addictions (substance use disorder) and behavioral addictions. 

  • Physical Addictions (Substance Use Disorder) – Physical addiction is caused by chronic use of a tolerance-forming drug. These addictions include substances that are ingested into a person’s body, such as:
  • Alcohol
  • Opioids
  • Stimulants
  • Hallucinogens
  • Behavioral Addictions – These addictions occur when a person loses control of their actions to engage in behaviors that offer brief periods of happiness. Over time, that person becomes dependant on those feelings to maintain their satisfaction. A few examples include:
  • Gambling
  • Sex
  • Playing video games
  • Shopping (regular and online)

In the psychology of addictive behavior, once a bad habit is formed and repeated, it isn’t long before it becomes a daily event, one that we can no longer control. Developing these bad habits can start quickly, particularly when feeling overwhelmed, stressed, or fearful. 

Both forms of addiction elicit a feeling of excitement or “high” during their addictive moments, which leads to increased use and dependence, resulting in addiction.

Finding solace in a substance or behavior can happen to anyone, but there are signs and symptoms to look for, and addressing these sooner rather than later can be critical.

Signs and Symptoms of Addiction

The psychology of addiction includes signs and symptoms which may manifest themselves differently depending on the individual and the type of addiction. Still, there are definitive things to look for if addiction is suspected. 

A few signs and symptoms that are emotional and behavioral include:

    • Inability to fulfill obligations at work, school, or home
    • Abandoning previously enjoyed hobbies 
    • Problems sustaining relationships
    • Difficulty learning and making cohesive decisions
    • Irritability and argumentative
    • Sleep disturbances  
    • Reclusive and private behavior
    • Mood swings

Once dependency takes over, and the addict can no longer function normally in everyday events, it becomes vital to find help for addiction and recovery.

Treatment for Addiction

Woman meditating by the water

Seeking treatment is essential, and only 1 in 10 people who need it will receive it, but, thankfully, there are highly

-effective forms of recovery therapy available, including cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), neuro-linguistic programming (NLP), and hypnosis therapy. 

The psychology of addictive behavior breaks down the problem using simple techniques. When CBT is utilized, we learn how our thoughts create our feelings and, ultimately, our behaviors. 

When NLP is used as therapy for addiction, we learn exactly how to change negative behavior patterns and replace them with more positive life-enhancing choices.

Hypnotherapy is an evidence-based treatment used for addiction that allows the therapist to make positive suggestions while the patient is in a trance-like state. Hypnotherapy also enables a person to understand their addiction, and when used in conjunction with other treatments such as CBT and NLP, the results can be a significant life changer.   

Fortunately, addiction counseling is available at Miami Hypnosis and Therapy, where understanding the psychology of addiction allows us to utilize treatments that are integrative and highly customized to each client’s individual journey, which permits for more thorough and accelerated results.

Don’t let the chains of addiction hold you back from enjoying your life. Contact us and break free today!

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How to Move Beyond Languishing & Get Inspired Again

Have you been feeling like your creative process has stalled and the well is running dry? If you have found yourself feeling uninspired and unmotivated, know that you are not alone. Psychologists and therapists have been seeing a surge of clients experiencing this grey area of malaise. This phenomenon was discussed by organizational psychologist Adam Grant on TEDx and elsewhere in 2020 and 2021. Feeling stuck can happen to anyone, even when we’re doing what we love. When you add on isolation, a long-term and indefinite change in daily routines, and a potential loss of connection to your social network, the issue is exacerbated. Whether it’s an emotional or creative block, there are ways to move beyond languishing for better mental health and get inspired again. Let’s explore some of those ways together! 

Honor Progress, Not Perfection

Grant clearly distinguishes the psychology of languishing from burnout and depression: one neither feels drained nor hopeless. It’s the sensation of indifference rather that makes you feel and maybe even say, “meh.”

One way to address languishing mental health & treatment is to shift your focus from perfectionism to progress. When we’re focused on perfecting our work, we can get stuck for a long time because it becomes an obstacle to the creative process, rather than a motivator. Remember to take comfort in small victories and embrace change. Progress is not always about doing big things. 

Make Time for Yourself

Taking a break occasionally may help reset how you generally feel and offer a fresh perspective. This can help reduce feelings of stagnation with languishing mental health and renew interest in what you once enjoyed. Consider creating new morning routines for recommitting to you before you dive into work or other obligations. Get back to something you like doing that encourages mindfulness such as yoga, gardening, art, or reading, pending time outdoors in nature. Those little bursts of joy within when you give your full, undivided attention that makes you lose track of time? They all add up to your wellbeing.

volunteers setting up

Build New Connections

One pattern we’re seeing in the psychology of languishing is the growing sense of disconnection some individuals are experiencing. One antidote to this feeling is to reframe it: you can make a conscious choice to reach out to connect with others beyond your remote co-workers, or consider arranging a meetup with them to help give back to local communities.  Feeling like you’re making a difference in the world is important, and one way to disrupt the patterns of languishing is to connect with people. 

Reach out for community work in your neighborhood or volunteer in a nonprofit that focuses on what you’re passionate about: animal welfare, social inclusion, technology innovation and many more. When we build connections, it’s easier for us to remember that our lives are interconnected in some way which is crucial for languishing treatment

Clear Your Outer Space to Clear Your Inner Space

Start by getting rid of clutter to eliminate any negative or stagnant energy.  Once you have created some space, consider adding plants to your environment. Not only do they purify the air, but studies show that simply being around greenery can boost creativity and productivity.

Know that You’re Not Alone

We all have off days where we’re feeling less motivated or inspired because of the sustained dread or sense of grief brought by the pandemic. No one is immune to the occasional bout of languishing mental health and we don’t need to feel ashamed about its psychology or seeking treatment options for languishing.

man in white shirt feeling the air and inspired

Finding ways to move beyond languishing mental health and get inspired again can be difficult, but it’s not impossible. We all have moments in our lives when we feel stuck or stagnant. Sometimes, it’s necessary to take a step back and get perspective on where you are now so that you can move forward with renewed energy and passion for the work ahead of you. Our team at Miami Hypnosis and Therapy led by Anna Marchenko, LMHC, M.A., Ed.M. with a Master’s Degree from Columbia is here to help! We offer therapy services  with an integrative approach designed specifically for helping you rediscover your best self. Book a phone consultation today and get started.

An inflatable finish line arch that is outside

4 Tips to Get Inspired & Motivated for a New Year

In the winter months when the days are short, feeling uninspired is common. You can find yourself in a rut that may be hard to break. But, the New Year is also a perfect time to find new motivation to change old habits, get projects accomplished, and reach new goals. If you have the motivation for little things, like eating and going to work, then you can build that inspiration to help you get other things done. Here are some tips on getting motivated that are backed by science and psychologists. Motivation starts with a simple desire, and then builds momentum with intrinsic or extrinsic forces, such as rewards and gratification.
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family making breakfast in kitchen

The Benefits of a Morning Routine

Are your mornings a little chaotic? Between rushing the kids to school, getting ready for work, or walking the dog before you leave, these AM hours can get neglected. However, the psychological benefits of routine are huge. From managing stress to lowering your blood pressure, here are some scientific benefits of a morning routine.
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