Dopamine is a reward chemical key in our brain circuits that is necessary for motivation and for mental and physical well-being. Some external substances from sugar to cocaine to “being addicted to proving you are important”, cause artificially high levels of dopamine to be flooded into our system making us feel good. If these substances or behaviors are taken, or engaged in, on a continuous basis, our brain’s own mechanism for secreting dopamine naturally becomes lazy. For some people, this dopamine secretion mechanism is barely able to function, so they depend on the artificial boosters (their addictions) instead.
“In Willpower’s Not Enough, Washton and Boundy agree. “Addictive thinking is increasingly common in today’s society and in our families,” they write. At the core of such thinking lies the belief that “life should be without pain and require no effort.” They add, “If we insist on avoiding emotional pain, on being comfortable all the time, we will have to seek ways to avoid reality, to escape our mood.” They then go on to describe some of the thinking patterns that are driving this “addictive thinking” and our lack of acceptance of who we are:
“The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.” - Albert Einstein
“Dr. David B. Hawkins, clinical psychologist, therapist and counselor for over 30 years, believes that we are actually an addicted society and that socially-acceptable behaviors, such as working, eating, shopping and exercising, can take over and control our lives. He calls them “everyday addictions.”
“In their book, Willpower’s Not Enough, Arnold Washton, PhD, and Donna Boundy, MSW look at it similarly, but from a more societal perspective “It is now widely known that children growing up with chemically-dependent parents are at high risk for developing addictions themselves. But what we are just starting to realize is that growing up in an addictive society affect us all too – in many of the same ways.
“Here’s one way that Dr. William Glasser puts it:
“Chris Prentiss, in a book called The Alcoholism and Addiction Cure, goes deeper into what he believes is
Some authorities say we’ve become a society full of compulsive thinking and behavior. From our “gotta get it, gotta have it” advertising to our obsessive focus on celebrities, our ‘need’ to phone, text, surf or watch videos while driving to our hunger for more food, energy, sex, entertainment or shopping – i.e. anything that will give us instant gratification, make us feel better, or escape pain or discomfort – many of us are caught up in activities that we are having trouble controlling.
“If addictions are more than just a disease or an illness that affects a relative few – but are a way of coping with life and seeking better feelings – that suggests that many of us would have them. And that perspective IS widely shared. For example, Dr. Gabor Mate, a medical doctor who works with addicts in Vancouver’s “downtown Eastside” (one of Canada’s most drug-affected urban areas) writes:
“…There’s a widely held belief that most – if not all – of us are likely to become “addicted” in some way. Some say it’s because of the society we grow up in. Others, like Lee Jampolsky, PhD, say “there is an addictive personality in each and every one of us. It is part of being human.” In his book, Healing the Addictive Personality, Jampolsky writes: