How do choices lead to addiction?

Choices shape our destiny. Seemingly small decisions at the time, they can point us in the direction of success and happiness or failure and misery.



Thanks to reader Olev for prompting me to comment further on the addiction is not a disease topic I wrote about in this post.

Olev asks the question:

What prompts people to develop a habit that may be harmful, may become an addiction?

He adds that when people give up they may turn to alcohol, drugs or overeating.

From reading articles written by people much brighter than me, it seems that stress may well trigger an action that may become a habit and an addiction. Two good writers on the subjects of habits and choices are James Clear and Eric Barker.

One opinion which I support, is that we do something because it makes us feel better. We then do more of the same hoping it will make us feel even better. At some point we know that it won’t but we keep on doing it anyway.

Using chocolate as an example, a little chocolate now and again is a treat, a luxury we do not normally allow ourselves. If we had a bad day at work or a row with our spouse, we might treat ourselves to a chocolate bar. If the same situation occurred a few days later, we might remember how eating the chocolate after a bad day made us feel better and have another one.

It’s not a big stretch to imagine that quite soon as the frequency of the stressful situations increased so would the chocolate intake.

We would soon realise that one small chocolate no longer gave us the same good feeling so we would eat more each time. We might understand that eating large quantities of chocolate is not good for us but choose to continue.

We might also know that chocolate itself no longer made us feel better, but we continued to eat it in the hopes that it would.

At that stage, eating chocolate when stressed is a habit which could well become an addiction.

If we do not make the right choices.

Substitute tobacco, alcohol, cocaine or any other addictive substance or activity and the pattern would be the same.

There can be many different triggers for behaviours that have the potential to become addictive.

Peer pressure, customs, stress, parental influence, celebrities.

Some people resist all the triggers, some don’t


What do you think? Leave a comment.



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  1 comment for “How do choices lead to addiction?

  1. Roberta
    September 13, 2015 at 7:29 am

    Interesting post, Peter. I think stress is a factor in addictions too. People often use an addiction to try and lessen stress. Not all addictions are based on a substance. I knew a fried who was addicted to exercise – running. It was her high. I have also read that genetics plays a part in some addictions, such as alcohol. There is some interesting research that says there is an alcohol gene.

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