Factors that contibute for an addiction, do you have addictive personality traits?

Submitted by back2life on
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I apologize if there is already such topic or this has already been discussed in the forum.

I found it very interesting that there are so many factors that contribute for an addiction. I've asked some questions after the following text, so you can see if you had some of the addictive personality traits.

Some information (http://www.sparknotes.com/health/addiction/section5.rhtml) (To read the full text(I've cut some), please click on the link)

There are several essential components of addiction that are considered non-biological. These include cultural and social values, situational factors, ritual, developmental variations, personality differences and cognitive bias.

Cultural Values

The Hopi Indians drank alcohol in a ritualistic fashion. Following the Spanish arrival, however, alcoholism became prevalent among the same group of Indians. The introduction of a substance into two cultures simultaneously can lead to different outcomes. Heroin was introduced to the United States and Europe at the same time. In the U.S. heroin, addiction was a social catastrophe, while in Europe, the addiction was considered an American disease.
By looking at cultural perspectives, it is evident that the amount of substance in use at any given time or place does not account for addictive potential. Rather, the effects of alcohol and its presence within a culture correlate more closely with addiction.

Situational Factors

An individual's desire for a drug cannot be separated from the situation that surrounds the person taking the drug. Studies by Falk et al. (1983) showed that animals that were addicted to alcohol through an intermittent feeding schedule reduced their alcohol intake when their feeding schedules were normalized. In addition, in the absence of alternatives, the animal is more apt to overindulge. In humans, plausible alternatives will often redirect behavior away from drug use despite the positive mood changes associated with it. Servicemen returning from Vietnam who had been drug addicted during the war often did not become readdicted when they used the same drugs on the home front.

Another important element of addiction is ritual. As simple, as eliminating the rituals that accompany the addiction can be enough to cause the addiction to lose appeal. Powerful aspects of the addiction are obtained from the ritual itself, such that without it, the behavior or substance no longer is accompanied by euphoria. Heroin is a good example. The ritual of injecting heroin and the lifestyle involved in the pursuit and use of the drug is a part of the addiction. Taking away these components, as is done in methadone clinics, often reforms addicts on these bases alone.

The essential role of ritual has been well studied in narcotic addicts by Light and Torrance (1929). They reported that narcotic addicts could have their withdrawal symptoms relieved by a single prick of a needle, or an injection of sterile water. They postulated that the greater the addiction, the more likely to obtain temporary relief from the ritual of injection without the chemical support. Since then similar studies have looked at smoking. Nicotine administered directly by ingestion or injection does not have nearly the same affect that inhaled nicotine does for smoking addicts. Along the same thread, smokers will continue to smoke long after the level of nicotine to achieve the desired affect is reached. Clearly the ritual of injection and inhalation in the case of narcotic addiction and smoking, respectively, play an important, even an essential, role in the addiction.

Personality Differences

Before the 1920's, people were convinced that opiate use caused personality defects. At that time, investigators began to challenge this notion and concluded that these defective personality traits actually preceded the drug use. It was ascertained that to neurotic and psychopathic people opiates offered an escape from the realities of life that did not bother psychologically fit individuals. Thus, the drug use was an answer to their pathology, not a cause for it. A study done by Chein et al (1964) drove this point home. They noted that low self-esteem, learned incompetence, passivity, a negative outlook, and a history of dependent relationships characterized ghetto adolescent addicts: clearly individuals with an already burdened outlook on life.

Addicted individuals often do not value achievement, they desire instant gratification and they complain of higher than normal levels of stress. The argument that an individual has an addictive personality is strengthened, though, when one considers that the same individuals become addicted to many things, whether simultaneously or sequentially. Furthermore, it is commonly seen that an individual addicted to one depressant is also addicted to another, or will subsequently become addicted. For example, individuals often leave behind a narcotic addiction in favor of an addiction to alcohol. Lastly, the notion that addiction is personality driven is solidified when one considers the habits of reformed addicts. Strong compulsions towards eating, prayer, and other non-drug involvements are classically seen among reformed heroin addicts.

Cognitive Bias

An individual's reaction to drugs is strongly influenced by many things. Expectations, beliefs, and behavior of surrounding people that affect the individual's mental set all contribute. These factors can be so imposing that they can overcome the pharmacological properties of the drugs. The efficacy of placebo demonstrates how cognitive bias can create expected drug effects. In some individuals, placebos can be as powerful as painkillers such as morphine. Cigarette smokers claim that smoking relaxes them, despite the fact that nicotine is a stimulant. In a study done by Zinberg (1974), subjects given nicotine infusions did not become addicted once released from the hospital because they did not believe themselves to be addicts.

There have been several studies that have further substantiated the role cognitive bias plays in addiction. Male subjects who believed they were drinking alcohol, when in fact they were not, became sexually aroused and aggressive. When they were unknowingly given actual alcohol, the same subjects did not display either of these behaviors. Similarly, alcoholic subjects lose control of their drinking when they believe they are drinking alcohol, but not when they are actually drinking alcohol. An individual's belief in his or her status as an alcoholic will better predict the likelihood of relapse than previous drinking patterns and the degree of alcohol dependence. Cognitive and emotional factors are among the most important predictors of relapse in narcotic addiction, alcoholism, smoking, over-eating, and gambling.

Little information from another site (http://www.beatingaddictions.co.uk/WhatAreTheRiskFactors.html)

The psychological profile of a person can identify certain traits that can contribute to being a risk factor of addiction. People who have very short and fiery tempers have been proved to be more susceptible, as do those who lack confidence, suffer from anxiety and nervousness or those who have attention deficit disorders.

An overall lack of self control and low self esteem can also be more prominent traits in those with addictions.

Addiction, especially to substances can provide a comfort blanket or a coping mechanism to those who are lonely, are withdrawn from society or who carry emotional pain.

My questions to you guys is, before the porn addiction itself, did you have some of these traits?
And during the addiction, which of these are/were present in your personality?
If you feel alright now, what about now, which of these are present?

-overall lack of self control
-low self esteem
-loneliness
-withdrawn from society
-carry emotional pain
-didn't value achievement
-desire for instant gratification
-strong compulsions towards something (e.g. eating)
-learned incompetence
- passivity
-antisocial behavior
- a negative outlook
- burdened outlook on life
-disposition toward sensation seeking
-impulsive behavior
- high value on nonconformity combined with a weak commitment to the goals for achievement valued by the society.
-sense of social alienation and a general tolerance for deviance
-sense of heightened stress
-difficulty in planning and achieving long-term goals
-addictive individuals feel highly insecure, when it comes to relationships. They may often find it difficult to make commitments in relationships or trust their beloved. They constantly seek approval of others. As a result, misunderstandings might creep in, which in turn, would ruin their relationships.

Let me tell you about what I had before the addiction and during the addiction:

-antisocial behavior
-desire for instant gratification
-impulsive behavior
-difficulty in planning and achieving long-term goals
-desire for instant gratification
-heightened stress (problems in my family)

I have non of these now.

Interesting post

I had read or thought about some of the elements in that article, but it was really powerful seeing many of them listed together. Just shows that balance is the key, and there are lots of ways to improve balance - whatever your starting point.

From all the things , I find

From all the things , I find this absolutely amazing!!! I just can't believe that....look at how the sentences start - ,,subjects who believed ,,
Belief actually plays such a huge huge huge huge role?! How is that even possible...

Male subjects who believed they were drinking alcohol, when in fact they were not, became sexually aroused and aggressive. When they were unknowingly given actual alcohol, the same subjects did not display either of these behaviors. Similarly, alcoholic subjects lose control of their drinking when they believe they are drinking alcohol, but not when they are actually drinking alcohol.

Male subjects who believed they were drinking alcohol, when in fact they were not, became sexually aroused and aggressive. When they were unknowingly given actual alcohol, the same subjects did not display either of these behaviors. Similarly, alcoholic subjects lose control of their drinking when they believe they are drinking alcohol, but not when they are actually drinking alcohol.
Servicemen returning from Vietnam who had been drug addicted during the war often did not become readdicted when they used the same drugs on the home front.

Heroin was introduced to the United States and Europe at the same time. In the U.S. heroin, addiction was a social catastrophe, while in Europe, the addiction was considered an American disease.
subjects given nicotine infusions did not become addicted once released from the hospital because they did not believe themselves to be addicts

Cigarette smokers claim that smoking relaxes them, despite the fact that nicotine is a stimulant. In a study done by Zinberg (1974), subjects given nicotine infusions did not become addicted once released from the hospital because they did not believe themselves to be addicts.

The placebo

effect is huge. If humanity knew how to tap it, a lot of horrible drugs with nasty side effects could be avoided. Maybe shamanistic healers were onto something. Wink

Remember, every thought and every behavior correlates with neurochemical events. It's not just drugs that alter neurochemistry. And it's all circular. Behavior alters neurochemistry, which alters thoughts/behavior, and so forth.

That's how unhealthy downward addictive loops...and healthy upward oxytocin loops...are formed.

Everything psychological is biological

Everything in the environment affects physiology, and everything psychological is in fact biological.
In my view these are all biological. In other words, our limbic system alters physiology, which makes one more likely to use mind altering stuff, or not.

The Cultural Values (Hopi) and Situational Factors: Vietnam Vets are both clearly stress related. Fighting in a purposeless war and losing ones culture and way of life are both very stressful. Take away abnormal stressors and addictions often disappear. In fact if you block the stress hormone CRF, previous addicts (animals, humans) will not relapse, even if you administer drugs and alcohol. If you inject animals with this stress hormone, all will relapse.
Studies Link Stress and Addiction:
http://yourbrainonporn.com/stress-and-drug-addiction
The Rat Park, Addiction, and Environmental Factors - an essay (2007)
http://yourbrainonporn.com/addictions-the-rat-park-essay-2007%20

Situational Factors: Rituals - All come down “cue activation”.
Cues are any thought experience or feeling that triggers craving. Cues release a tremendous amount of dopamine and activate glutamate pathways that lead to cravings. These pathways alos inhibit the frontal lobe, which is the seat of self-control and recognizing the consequences of our actions. Endless studies have mapped out the physiology and importance of cues.

Personality Differences: Personality type comes down to dopamine and dopamine receptors.
1) Impulsives (the type mentioned here) have fewer dopamine receptors (D2) to begin with, so their reward circuitry is always running low, as if low on batteries. As a result they feel great when taking dopamine-raising drugs. Drugs/alcohol make them feel “normal” because they are usually low on dopamine stimulation. If you give meth to someone with normal levels of dopamine receptors, they don’t like it – it’s aversive.
2) Risk-takers have a greater release of dopamine, thus drugs and novelty are far more rewarding (fewer dopamine autoreceptors that control dopamine levels)
3) Depression appears to be more dopamine-based than serotonin-based, so again it comes down to dopamine. Early experiments to help those with “unresponsive depression” used electrodes planted in patients reward circuits. It worked.
See - Desperately Seeking Sensation: Fear, Reward, and the Human Need for Novelty
http://yourbrainonporn.com/fear-reward-and-human-need-for-novelty2

Cognitive Bias: The placebo effect is very strong. What is the source of the placebo effect? Dopamine. It’s not cognitive bias; it is the amount of dopamine released in the reward circuit. Yes, dopamine appears to initiate a sequence of events that cause the placebo effect for all sorts of treatments. This mechanism would be especially striking with addictions that depend upon dopamine for their effects
See - Brains reward system helps drive placebo effect
http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE6735DW20100804
See - Scientists suggest rationale for the placebo effect -dopamine
http://www.nzherald.co.nz/technology/news/article.cfm?c_id=5&objectid=10...

Bottom line – everything that is psychological, has a biological correlate.

.

[quote=gary]Everything in the environment affects physiology, and everything psychological is in fact biological.
In my view these are all biological.[/quote]

I think that the fact that when thoughts, beliefs etc(psychological) do change our brains in a specific way and interact with the biology doesn't make them biological, they still remain psychological, however always affecting the biology of our brains. I believe that there is biological side of the things and psychological side and they absolutely always in 100% of the cases are correlated. Sometimes the biology affects the psychology , sometimes an idea, belief of mine can have huge impact on the biology of my brain. So, depending on the case, one comes first I guess...

[quote=gary]Depression appears to be more dopamine based than serotonin, so again it comes down to dopamine. Early experiments to help those with “unresponsive depression” used electrodes planted in patients reward circuits. It worked.[/quote]

Sometimes I can have depression that started mainly because of psychological problems that didn't have biological basis before they appeared, after that the biology was affected and there we have a cycle. For the change to take place, I have to change my ideas,beliefs and I can change again the biology of my brain.
That's just for example..

True though , some of them are biological, stress related ones for example, first comes the biological change from stress then you become addictive. But the stress makes the biological change possible because of our psyche. It depends on the psyche of the individual. One will become addictive after stress, another will not. It is up to the psychological side of the things if the biological change(in regards to addictiveness) is going to possible or not.

Are all those

Are all those characteristics necessarily bad or are we are we wrong to assume all people should conform to a limited range of the spectrum that we decided was more normal? Does that societal choice lead many to addiction? We're all exhibiting some of these traits by what we're doing here. Does that mean the typical or atypical is normal? If we go with atypical, then aren't some of those addiction-enabling traits normal? Thus, these traits can't be addiction enabling unless the default is to be more addictive or to become addiction-prone in reaction to the society as it exists? All the addiction happening now suggests the latter. We deny reality by trying to pretend the world is more perfect than it is.

What do you attribute most to changing your personality?

addiction

I think addiction is all psychological. I think only those who have certain character traits or experience become addicts. Stress leads you to your drug of choise only after you teach yourself that it has to be this way.

I totally agree with "freedom". These are not addict's personality descriptions. I experienced almost all of those traits when I was writing my MA thesis; and I was definitely not addicted to it. This traits are rather traits which you aqcuire when you isolate yourself for a period of time. If you want to observe the change in your personality during and after addiction, I'd say you should try to understand what was the "thing" you liked in the addiction, and how your personality changed after you deprived yourself from this "thing".

In my case what I experienced during my previous addiction (computer game) was high from " time manipulation" (if you can call it like this). I was addicted to blank state of mind when time felt irrelevant. Sometimes you could feel seconds, you felt like you could do so much during each second. Also, my mind was clear of all everyday problems, worries, plans, responsobilities, etc.. I enjoyed precisely this! Not sure how it affected my personality after withdrawal.

I actually don't consider PMO as addiction, rather a bad behaviour which subconsiously lead to ED. I wasn't sitting for hours in front of PC, rather quick 15-30 min per day; however I believe my mind wired incorrectly because of it, making real women less exiting than images&videos; I am hoping to rewire it as Marnia puts it.

thx for reading

False dichotomy = addiction is psychological.

Everything psychological has a physical structure, so there is no such thing as purely psychological.

The point of my previous post is to have people move away from either/or thinking. There is no such thing as nature vs nurture, or environment vs genetics, or psychological vs whatever?
For example, whatever is happening in your environment is continuously altering which genes are turned on and turned off. Genes are not isolated, set in stone, bystanders.

In your brain, your thoughts are always affecting the nerve cells and their receptors: creating new connections; weakening old connections; creating more or less receptors; increasing or decreasing neurotransmitters; etc.

These physiological changes affect your mood, thoughts, feelings, hormone levels, immune functioning - which then circle around to affect the structure and functioning of the brain. It's a constant feedback loop, or never-ending circle of thoughts and feelings affecting physiology and structure, and the physiology/structure then affecting mood, feelings, thoughts.

Addiction is not psychological. It is not a fleeting thought or mood. It is a consistent, well described, pattern of specific changes in the structure and functioning of cells and how they communicate. This pattern of change is the same for all addictions, in all animals. These changes have been extensively studied and mapped out.

If you have ED from excessive porn use then your brain has changed. Your dopamine (D2) receptors have declined in your ventral striatum, as in all addictions. The rewiring that you describe involves excessive branching and inteconnections of glutamate circuits running from your prefrontal cortex to your nucleus accumbens. The result: inability of the nucleus accumben D2 receptors (because they are missing) to stimulate oxytocin nerves that travel from the hypothalamus down the spinal cord to your sacral and thoracic penile reflexes. This is the likely cause of your ED

I know, it sounds like gibberish, but these are the changes that probably caused your ED, and every other porn addict's ED. Nothing here is fleeting or "psychological." Just very specific changes in cell functioning - as are all diseases or pathologies - whether it's cancer, a broken bone, or an addiction.

Do you get the feeling that I hate the word psychological?

gary

Actually, you are right. Very good argument. Thanks.

But in this case, if certain type of connections/chemicals are missing then rewiring can't happen by itself. Then, to fix ED you need some types of exercises to create those missing components (eg. observing your femail colleague and try to get an erection), don't you?

Gary

Gary, what do you think about the fact that you can change your brain biology only with your thoughts by exercising conscious control, using your will power? Ain't that psychological? Would you categorize the thoughts themselves as something biological or as something psychological that always effects and cannot exist without the biological side?

[quote=gary]Addiction is not psychological. It is not a fleeting thought or mood. It is a consistent, well described, pattern of specific changes in the structure and functioning of cells and how they communicate. This pattern of change is the same for all addictions, in all animals. These changes have been extensively studied and mapped out.[/quote]

That's right, but I think that addiction is both psychological and biological. Why? Because I put ,,thoughts,, in the psychological category, I define ,,thoughts,, as something psychological, not biological. So basically when you are addicted your biology is changed, that's right, but this changed biology creates specific thoughts, in psychological aspect. These thoughts make you do certain things. I can have 1000 thoughts that I want porn right now. I consider this purely psychological side of the addiction, it's true that these thoughts are provoked by the biology of my brain, but this does not eliminate the fact that there is psychological side of the addiction. You have conscious control over these thoughts, so you can psychologically change your biology. Thing here is that every biological change provokes/can provoke certain type of thoughts, and every thought provokes/can provoke certain biological changes. Good thing is we have conscious control over the thoughts (psychological). What do you think about that?

QUOTE:"Gary, what do you

QUOTE:"Gary, what do you think about the fact that you can change your brain biology only with your thoughts by exercising conscious control, using your will power? Ain't that psychological?

ANSWER: All bodily functions are caused by structures changing- at the molecular level. So my answer is still the same - there is no point where one can separate psychological from anatomy and physiology. You can change any organ in the body. For example, start exercising, and over time your heart, muscles, lungs, hormonal levels, brain, etc. all undergo structural alterations. Or -become chronically stressed and excess cortisol will impact every cell in the body. Examples are endless. All functions are cells changing structure.

In your case, the long-term changes you experience from employing your willpower arise from alterations in the strength of synapses. It involves changes in protein structure where cells communicate, that facilitate the "willpower pathway". In addition, not following an addiction pathway will weaken it. However, the addiction pathways appears to strengthen, before they weaken, so that's why it takes time to reboot. You must allow physiological process to catch up with your higher brain intentions.

My belief is that why a particular therapy doesn't work for one person (hypnosis, talk therapy, prozac, etc.), is that it does not cause structural and physiological changes.

QUOTE: Would you categorize the thoughts themselves as something biological or as something psychological that always effects and cannot exist without the biological side?

ANSWER: Yes. Thoughts are biological, which cannot exist without the cells that form the brain. (note -I don't want to get into metaphysical debate). All experiences are nerve impulses traveling along nerve cells. Remove the brain and life becomes dull.

An interesting question is - where is your will? Studies show that a scientist viewing an fMRI of the brain (which looks at blood flow to regions of the brain ) can predict with 100% accuracy what choice you will make - before you consciously make it. In other words, you have chosen before you are aware of it.

It is also clear that we have 7 basic circuits that run all of our emotions and all of our behaviors: play, anger, fear, panic, lust, seeking, and care. These arise in the very deep parts of the brain (subconscious). We share these circuits with all mammals. Humans add value judgments to make them appear more complex. In other words, you add your thoughts, but your are still running on one of the basic circuits. A circuit that is 200 million years old, and is instinctual.

You have a thousand thoughts that you want porn because using porn caused structural changes in your brain. You urges to use arise from the seeking program - which an instinctual program. Your addiction memories (which are structural) are impinging on your seeking/reward circuitry.
If your brain is injected with a CRF antagonist (drug), you would no longer have a thousand thoughts about porn. You urge to use porn would drop to the level of where is was before you ever saw porn.

As far as conscious control of our thoughts -perhaps Jesus or Buddha had that skill.

.

QUOTE: Would you categorize the thoughts themselves as something biological or as something psychological that always effects and cannot exist without the biological side?

[quote=gary]
ANSWER: Yes. Thoughts are biological, which cannot exist without the cells that form the brain. (note -I don't want to get into metaphysical debate). All experiences are nerve impulses traveling along nerve cells. Remove the brain and life becomes dull.[/quote]

Alright :) I see you are a physicalist :) That's a complex topic, indeed, I'll just say again that my opinion is (I'm quoting that) : thinking is an activity that has a material substrate, but I believe that the relationship of mind and brain is best understood in terms of the view of dual-aspect monism, linking the material and the mental to form a complementary relationship, rather than through an attempt to reduce the mental to the material.
But in the end, it doesn't really matter if it's all matter or there is something that is non-matter (in our case, thoughts).
Or you are right? How can non-matter coexist with and affect matter? May be the idea that there can be something that is nonmaterial is false :) It cannot be proven though. If we actually have to scientifically prove something, your stance is the winner :)

[quote=gary]
A interesting question is - where is your will? Studies show that a scientist viewing an fMRI of the brain (which looks at blood flow to regions of the brain ) can predict with 100% accuracy what choice you will make - before you consciously make it. In other words, you have chosen before you are aware of it.[/quote]

My opinion is that this experiment doesn't disprove free conscious will. The brain can light up or activate some areas prior to my conscious decision, but this doesn't mean that I don't have a free will. Even if the scientist can tell me that I'll move my finger to the right, instead of the left some nano or milli seconds before I actually realize that, I am still making the choice, it has not been decided for me.

[quote=gary]
As far as conscious control of our thoughts -perhaps Jesus or Buddha had that skill.
[/quote]

By conscious control of my thoughts I mean that, if I generate a thought and I don't like this thought, I can consciously say to myself , I want some other thought not this one and in future if I get this thought again I just ignore it and start generating other thoughts, after 2-3 days, I won't generate this thought again. In a nutshell, I'm exercising a conscious control by ignoring the thought, saying that I want another and eventually not generating this thought ever again. I call this conscious control over my thoughts. Basically I controlled it, didn't I? I stopped it? To stop something, means that you have control over it. You can do that, I can do that, everybody can.

[quote=gary]
If your brain is injected with a CRF antagonist (drug), you would no longer have a thousand thoughts about porn. Your urge to use porn would drop to the level of where is was before you ever saw porn.[/quote]

So, if it was that easy, why do we all struggle with this addiction, can't everybody just get some CRF antagonist injected? Or is it harmful in some way?

Nope, I'm not a physicalist

Your assumption could not be more incorrect.
Mind beyond the brain is metaphysics, which a completely different subject than what we have been discussing. It is not a testable hypothesis, as scientists would say.

There is a reason I am so adamant in stating that no brain function can be purely psychological. It is because most psychologists and sexologists state that that porn addiction is purely psychological. Marnia and I fight this nonsense daily. Some have stated that all addictions are purely psychological, which displays their ignorance of modern neuroscience.

There is no such thing as purely psychological when it comes to brain, any more than it is for any other organ of the body. False dichotomy.

I never said we did not have free will, I said that our decisions arise from the deep part of the brain that is shared by all animals. The so-called unconscious. By the way, the choices tested were more complex than muscle movement.

As Marnia said, this website is about using our higher faculties to guide our lower brain, so we have no disagreement there.

As far as CRF, no it cannot be used with addicts as it would cause undue side-effects. This was given as an example of something purely physical (hormone) completely and instantly changing ones psychology (addiction gone). There are many examples.

.

[quote=gary]

There is a reason I am so adamant in stating that no brain function can be purely psychological. It is because most psychologists and sexologists state that that porn addiction is purely psychological. Marnia and I fight this nonsense daily. Some have stated that all addictions are purely psychological, which displays their ignorance of modern neuroscience.

There is no such thing as purely psychological when it comes to brain, any more than it is for any other organ of the body. False dichotomy.

[/quote]

Alright, that's what I say too! :) Nothing can be purely psychological, to state such a thing is simply ignorance. It's either psychological/biological or only biological, where the first case psych/bio cannot be proven anyhow, so you might be right that it's only biological, at least we have proof for that :)

I just want to add...

that our whole site is based on the idea that if you change your thoughts and behaviors, your brain will follow. So saying that thoughts/behaviors are *also* physiological events doesn't detract from the importance of choosing thoughts and behaviors.

Knowing that thoughts/behaviors can change the brain is actually empowering. We are plastic creatures...thank goodness. Smile