- The disruption of the reward center of the brain that finds pleasure in everyday activities.
- Minimal distress tolerance that leads to a compulsion to use or engage in problem behavior (cravings)
- Impairment in brain structures meant to facilitate decision making, impulse control, and self-regulation, placing the individual at greater risk for relapse
The Dangers of Replacement Addictions
When recovering from an addiction, it is an all-too-common phenomenon for one to replace their primary reported problematic behaviors (usually compulsatory dependence on illicit substances) with other destructive, perhaps thought to be less severe, problem behaviors. Whether only temporary or permanent, a shift towards these replacement addictions are a sign that the person is still caught up in their addictive tendencies. An addicted person may believe that while in recovery, switching to legal substances, such as alcohol or nicotine, or taking up new behavioral patterns, termed “process addictions”, is a step in the right direction. These behaviors may include vigorous exercise, new eating habits, or even spending newly acquired free time online shopping, etc. however all of these options pose potential problems to the recovering addict. While many who struggle with addiction will make justifications for these new behaviors, the key is in understanding the function and role that they may play in the addicted person’s life, as this is the primary way to know when a seemingly innocuous or even healthy new habit may be the cause for concern. Dangerous Habits A good understanding of the definition of addiction is imperative in considering the effects of this phenomenon and remains useful to shed some light as to why an individual might employ the use of a substitute addiction. The three common characteristics of addiction can be understood as: