Why Do We Get Addictions?

We're told things like heroin are addictive because we have receptor sites in our brains which match heroin's chemical "key." And this is true. But saying this is the nature of addictions is like saying banks get robbed because banks have keyholes and robbers have the keys. Obviously most people who have those keys don't rob banks. Likewise despite having chemical keyholes, most of us don't get addicted. So why do we get addicted?

Psychologically oriented folks might point to the idea that many people who get addicted had tough childhoods, never learned to deal with neediness, or were morally bankrupt. Here again, while these things do show up in many people who are addicted, most people with those kinds of lives do become addicts. So is there a sine qua non for addiction, an essential quality present in every addiction from heroin to compulsive gambling? Actually, there are two. Moreover to get addicted, both must be present. One is the state of mind in which we become vulnerable to addiction; blankness. The other is the thing which makes these things addicting. And no, it's not the physical properties of heroin or Valium or the possible gains of gambling. Rather it's how these things affect a blank mind. Curious? Read on.

What Causes Addiction? (the connection between addiction and our perception of time)

Emergence and Alcoholism (helping Carla, a young alcoholic)

The "Dizzy" Blonde: part one (an alcoholic woman learns to like AA)

The "Dizzy" Blonde: part two (the recovering alcoholic who always looked drunk)

One of the mysteries of addictions is why some people get addicted and others don't. And yes, genetics explains part of this. But this in no way explains the people who share this genetic predisposition and don't get addicted. In truth, something more is at work here, something so obvious that it surprises people when they see it. What is it? Like every other vulnerability, it's the blank mind.

What Puts You at Risk for Addictions? (how being in shock makes you vulnerable to alcoholism and drug addiction)

Why Are Some Drugs are More Addicting Than Others? (how onset speed affects risk for alcoholism and drug addiction)

The Emergence "P" Curve and Addictions (using the Emergence P-Curve to help alcoholics and addicts recover)

Why Overeating is Not an Addiction (how compulsions and addictions differ)

Addictions and Eating Disorders (how are they linked?)

Addressing Diet and Fitness in Recovery (using "slow" transitions to optimize recovery)