Addictions ruin lives and rip families apart. Addictions lead to divorce, school drop-out and failure, missed promotions at work, and a whole host of health problems.
Brain dysfunction is the #1 reason people fall victim to addictions, remain caught in them, and relapse.
Your brain is the supercomputer that runs your entire mind and body. If it is working well, you work well. When your brain has problems, you have problems. Brain functioning is at the heart of addictions.
What causes addictions?
Addictions are caused by underlying brain patterns that can make it all but impossible to not think of the desired activity or thing. Basically, the brain is looking for something to make it feel better because it has a dysfunctional pattern. When it gets its reward, the addictive behavior, whether that be booze, pornography, drugs, sugar, or something else, the brain gets a release of the feel good, pleasure neurotransmitters, making it feel better again, for a little while at least. Unfortunately, as anyone with an addiction knows, you need more and more of that thing to get the same type of feeling overtime, making your addiction grow stronger as you engage in it.
Addictions are associated with other challenges that people suffer from and to truly get rid of the addiction, the other issues need to be solved too. In most cases the other issues are due to dysfunctional brain patterns as well.
Addictions are associated with:
- Bipolar Spectrum Disorders
- Attention Deficit Disorder
- Traumatic Brain Injuries
How can I break an addiction?
To truly break an addiction, there must be a brain evaluation and the underlying brain pattern that is causing the addiction must be determined. Only then can the addiction specifically addressed to be conquered. Once the brain pattern is improved, then behaviors improve and habits change to rid the addictive behavior permanently.
Are all addictions the same?
In one word, No. There are different reasons that people get stuck in an addictive pattern and the brain is affected differently in each.
Types of Addictions
No matter what you are addicted to, alcohol, drugs, gambling, food, sex, or something else, there are 6 main types of addictions as discovered by Dr. Daniel Amen after 80,000 brain scans.
The different types of addictions have to do with the areas of your brain that are affected and what type of brain dysfunction is present. The object of addiction is just that, the object, however, the underlying brain pattern dysfunction and thinking mechanisms are the same for all kinds of addiction.
6 Types of Addiction
The compulsive addict gets a thought in his or her head of what they want (their addiction) and it will not go away. The craving continues, with continual looping of the thought, until the need is met. What the person is addicted to is not the main concern, it is the underlying need for that thing and the inability to stop thinking about it.
The qEEG Brain Map that is associated with this type of addiction is one of a high beta, very fast processing speed, in a mid-frontal area of the brain called the anterior cingulate gyrus. This can be caused by, and perpetuates, low serotonin levels in the brain.
Impulsive addicts tend to start their day with the intention to refrain from their addictive behavior but do not have enough self-control to follow through. They do not have the brain skills to shift their attention away from their addictive behaviors once the urge arises. Triggers and cravings make it so that when the impulse arises, the barrier goes down that would stop them from acting out with the addictive behavior.
This brain type is mostly associated with low activity of the prefrontal cortex, the brain’s supervisor. Low activity is associated with lower levels of dopamine. The prefrontal cortex is in charge of crucial executive function skills, like the captain of a ship, to help a person stay in control throughout their day. These behaviors include:
- Follow Through
- Impulse Control
- Good Decision Making Skills
- Shifting Attention
When the Prefrontal Cortex is not working as it should, due to low activity, the supervisor is out to lunch. Inhibitions go down, judgment abilities decrease, attention decreases, impulses increase, and the addictive behavior continues. This pattern is associated with ADD and ADHD and is much more common in men.
You guessed it, it is a combination of the above two, compulsive and impulsive. This combo type of addiction is related to a low activity prefrontal cortex with a high activity anterior cingulate gyrus. Yep, you can have both!
The low activity in the prefrontal cortex is associated with impulsive behaviors, and the high activity in the anterior cingulate gyrus is related to compulsive thoughts leading to addictive behaviors. This pattern is associated with ADHD and anxiety and is common in children and grandchildren of alcoholics.
Sad or Emotional Addicts
Just as the name suggests, this type of addiction is associated with low grade chronic sadness all the way to full blown depression. This type might get better or worse with the changing of the seasons or may remain constant.
People who suffer from this type of addiction are more likely to use or overuse alcohol, marijuana, painkillers or food to self-medicate the feelings of depression. This type is more common in women than it is men.
The brain pattern that is associated with this type of addiction is a deep limbic system dysfunction and low frontal cortex activity.
People with this type of addiction tend to suffer from varying degrees of anxiety and stress and predict the worse for future outcomes. They tend to use alcohol, marijuana, sleeping pills, painkillers, and food to self-medicate their feelings of:
Physical symptoms tend to arise with this type of addiction such as headaches, muscle tension, jaw tension, nail-biting, stomach aches, and shortness of breath.
The brain pattern associated with this type of addiction is associated with a high beta pattern of excessive fast processing speed in the brain that directly impacts the basal ganglia and is related to low levels of GABA, a calming neurotransmitter in the brain.
Temporal Lobe Addicts
This type of addiction is mostly related to head injury or toxicity in the brain but can also be related to inherited patterns. The temporal lobes show decreased, or increased in some cases, activity that results in temper outbursts and severe mood swings. People who struggle with type of addiction tend to having learning difficulties and memory problems.
How does having a brain map help me beat my addiction?
Although people with addictions may suffer from many of the same symptoms, it is crucial to figure out what the underlying brain dysfunction is to address the specific needs of the brain for lasting results and no relapses. At Leigh Brain & Spine, we do not use a cookie-cutter approach. All evaluations and addiction treatment programs are individualized to specifically meet your needs to help you get rid of your addictions once and for all.