The Underlying Causes of Addiction

Jesse Hanson speaks about the underlying causes of addiction. Watch the video or read the transcript below.

When we look at drugs like heroin or alcohol, there is an element of which these drugs are physically addicting; however, it is not the case that every single person that uses them becomes addicted. In other words, there is some reason why some people get addicted and some people don’t.

The way I would articulate it is, there’s a susceptibility to addiction that has to do with a number of factors. That could be unresolved traumas from the past, that could be poor coping mechanisms to deal with emotions, could do with brain chemical imbalances, could do with beliefs, and if a person is holding a certain level of unprocessed emotional energy in them, they’re going to be a lot more likely to want to keep using whatever substance it is over and over again until they’re numbed out.

Where someone that might just enjoy a glass of wine, but they have a pretty good grasp on their emotional energy and their ability to cope with their emotions, that glass of wine is a great place for them to just stop.

[sentence title=”“There is some reason why some people get addicted and some people don’t.“”]

What neuroscience is showing about addiction in the brain is that the amygdala, the center of the brain that has to do with the fight or flight response, is really the epicentre of addiction. In other words, if a person has or has created a brain where the amygdala is what is firing most often, they are going to be highly susceptible to addiction and the more that they get into the addictive behaviour patterns, the more that part of the brain becomes the primary activity centre.

In the brain the cerebral cortex or the higher brain functions will be shut down because there’s this constant surge of ‘am I safe or not? And if I’m not safe I need to get out of here,’ and a great way to get out of here is to be able to check out through the numbing that drugs and alcohol offer.

In effective treatment for addiction, the brain is going to be rewired in a way that the amygdala will learn how to calm down and not be so active all the time, and the cerebral cortex will begin to have more accessibility to the person and when that’s firing more that means that the rational part of the brain and the ability to witness or observe our self, as opposed to being sucked in to the drama of our experience. That part of the brain will become much more active.

[sentence title=”“Modern neuroscience is showing us that our brains are biochemically engineered for addiction.“”]

Modern neuroscience is showing us that our brains are biochemically engineered for addiction. They are made to do repeated things over and over again, so the question becomes not ‘am I addicted or am I an addict?’ The question is, ‘is what I’m doing over and over again helping me or hurting me? And if it’s hurting me, I really need to look at that and understand deeper why, and do the work to correct that.’

What we’re doing here at Helix, by integrating some addict therapy and sound therapy and acupuncture and all these body centered approaches, we’re helping our clients to actually get access to both hemispheres of the brain to make long lasting change around their addictive and destructive behaviour patterns.


To book a complimentary consultation with Jesse Hanson, or Shannon Axler our Assistant Clinical Director, please call 416.921.CARE (2273) or fill out our online form.

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