What is addiction? Addiction makes one crave for their object of addiction. They lose all their control over the use of the object and stop caring for all the consequences the addiction is causing. They lose interest in every other aspect of life and cannot seem to think of anything other than their object of addiction. Try talking to them, they will somehow bring up the object one way or another. They lose the people who care about them this way. They are left alone with their object of addiction and this only makes the addiction worse.
What do we usually think of these people? They must be weak for giving in to addiction. They just need to be strong willed to lead a normal life again. Well, we are wrong to think that way. Addiction is a chronic disease which affects the brain of the addict. It’s just like any other disease that needs to be cured.
How does the Pleasure Principle work? When we buy a new dress, eat good food, hug someone we love or maybe have great sex, a neurotransmitter named dopamine is released in the nucleus accumbens. This is how we feel pleasure. What these objects of addiction do is that they help us cheat. They increase the amount of dopamine released, flooding the nucleus accumbens with it. People cannot handle the intensity of the pleasure and yet cannot seem to stay away from it. They keep going back for more.
Is this experience of pleasure enough to get people addicted? Dopamine has more to offer! It interacts with glutamate, another neurotransmitter and together, takes over the process of reward related learning. It now plays a role in learning and memory. The brain now remembers what had caused so much pleasure. A conditioned response is thus created.
After a while, the flood of dopamine ceases to affect us. The brain receptor cannot deal with so much dopamine, hence they create mechanisms to get rid of the dopamine or minimize it’s effect. The addict, hence, doe snot get the pleasure like before. Yet, they cannot stop as their memory has been affected. They do not do it for pleasure now, but for the compulsion.