Tag Archives: addiction

Why is Social Media so Addicting?!

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Between Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pintrest, and Foursquare, people our age today spend a large portion of their day on social media sites.  Social media sites have been the latest craze for a few years now, but why is it that people feel the need to constantly keep in contact with others every minute of the day? Why do people feel that it is necessary to share everything they’re doing throughout the day with all of their friends or “followers?”  The main question is: why is social media just so addicting?

Besides being a distraction from daily tasks, it has been found that sharing information on social media sites actually provides a person happiness and pleasure.  A Harvard study proved this idea.  Researchers at Harvard University did a number of experiments all that concluded that when a person tells information about themselves, the same part of the brain is used that is associated with pleasure- the same pleasure we receive from eating a good meal, getting money, and even having sex. 

During the study the Harvard researchers hooked subjects up to an MRI machine and had them answer questions and discuss aspects of their own personal lives.  They also had them listen and discuss aspects of other’s lives.  The MRI machine showed a distinct change in the brain activity when talking about themselves as opposed to others.  The region of the brain associated with reward was strongly activated when the subjects were talking about their own lives, making it clear that they would prefer to talk about themselves instead of others simply because of the feeling of happiness and pleasure that part of the brain releases when doing so. 

I had always heard that when having a conversation with a new person, always ask them questions about their own lives; people can talk forever about themselves.  So how does this connect to social media?  Social media is an outlet for people to talk about and show the things that are going on in their lives constantly.  A bonus about social media is that not only are people getting to talk about themselves, they get to do so in front of a large audience: the hundreds of thousands of other social media users.  Harvard researchers also performed a second study in which the test subjects got to share information with some of their family and friends while some had to keep the information to themselves.  The subjects that got to share their personal information with others had increased activity in the region of the brain associated with reward.  

One of the researchers from the study, Diana Tamir, told the Los Angeles Times, “I think the study helps to explain why people utilize social media websites so often. I think it helps explain why Twitter exists and why Facebook is so popular, because people enjoy sharing information about each other.”

Now you know there is actual medical reasoning behind why social media is so popular and so addicting.  Everyone wants to feel that extra bit of joy and reward that social media provides.  Why else do you think social media is so popular?  Do you think everyone feels the same way as those in the study and enjoys talking about themselves? 

Also, always remember to be safe about what you post on social media sites, no matter how much joy it may bring you in doing so!

Source:

http://marketing.wtwhmedia.com/new-harvard-study-shows-why-social-media-is-so-addictive-for-many

Why is Social Media so Addicting?!

social-media.jpg

 

Between Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pintrest, and Foursquare, people our age today spend a large portion of their day on social media sites.  Social media sites have been the latest craze for a few years now, but why is it that people feel the need to constantly keep in contact with others every minute of the day? Why do people feel that it is necessary to share everything they’re doing throughout the day with all of their friends or “followers?”  The main question is: why is social media just so addicting?

Besides being a distraction from daily tasks, it has been found that sharing information on social media sites actually provides a person happiness and pleasure.  A Harvard study proved this idea.  Researchers at Harvard University did a number of experiments all that concluded that when a person tells information about themselves, the same part of the brain is used that is associated with pleasure- the same pleasure we receive from eating a good meal, getting money, and even having sex. 

During the study the Harvard researchers hooked subjects up to an MRI machine and had them answer questions and discuss aspects of their own personal lives.  They also had them listen and discuss aspects of other’s lives.  The MRI machine showed a distinct change in the brain activity when talking about themselves as opposed to others.  The region of the brain associated with reward was strongly activated when the subjects were talking about their own lives, making it clear that they would prefer to talk about themselves instead of others simply because of the feeling of happiness and pleasure that part of the brain releases when doing so. 

I had always heard that when having a conversation with a new person, always ask them questions about their own lives; people can talk forever about themselves.  So how does this connect to social media?  Social media is an outlet for people to talk about and show the things that are going on in their lives constantly.  A bonus about social media is that not only are people getting to talk about themselves, they get to do so in front of a large audience: the hundreds of thousands of other social media users.  Harvard researchers also performed a second study in which the test subjects got to share information with some of their family and friends while some had to keep the information to themselves.  The subjects that got to share their personal information with others had increased activity in the region of the brain associated with reward.  

One of the researchers from the study, Diana Tamir, told the Los Angeles Times, “I think the study helps to explain why people utilize social media websites so often. I think it helps explain why Twitter exists and why Facebook is so popular, because people enjoy sharing information about each other.”

Now you know there is actual medical reasoning behind why social media is so popular and so addicting.  Everyone wants to feel that extra bit of joy and reward that social media provides.  Why else do you think social media is so popular?  Do you think everyone feels the same way as those in the study and enjoys talking about themselves? 

Also, always remember to be safe about what you post on social media sites, no matter how much joy it may bring you in doing so!

Source:

http://marketing.wtwhmedia.com/new-harvard-study-shows-why-social-media-is-so-addictive-for-many

I Don’t Have an Addiction! Reality Just Sucks

          
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             So this is my last entry related to gaming. I feel it is important to cover the negative aspects of gaming as I am sure most of you will be quick to point those out in my other blog entries. Like everything else gaming can lead to horrible outcomes. The web is littered with articles talking about killings, child negligence, self-negligence, and psychological disorders.

            While there isn’t much or any reliable scientific evidence to confirm if gaming drives people to kill there is plenty of data on health effects. This is where I will focus most of my blog since this is a science class after all!

            So what are these ominous health problems? Well for starters there are several documented cases of people starving to death, dying of sleep deprivation, dehydration, blood clots, and obesity.

            In 2007 Joshua Smyth conducted a randomized trial study of college students looking at the effects playing online games had. He found that the students playing these games were more likely to develop health problems, erratic sleep, less likely to socialize in real life, as well as academic work taking a significant plummet. While the study only had 100 volunteers I tend to agree with the data. I once went on a six month gaming binge after high school. With no prospects of college I was stagnant and filled most of my days with gaming. At the time I was competitively World of Warcraft where I was in a top 10 world guild as well as number three on the player versus player ladder in the US. I can attest that excessive playing will in fact put you at death’s door. Playing over 16 hours a day, sleeping 3-4 hours, I had little time for much else. I started to look like the stay puff marshmallow man from “Ghost Busters”. What fed my denial of my unhealthy lifestyle was I had in fact actually lost weight. This of course was due to my nonexistent diet and lack of any physical activity. Eventually I realized my problem and did what any normal person would do. I joined the United States Air Force, but not before logging 124 days played on my Paladin between April 2005-December 2005.

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             So what drives people into such an unhealthy lifestyle? Well in the study it was noted that the social aspect had a significant influence on keeping people tied to their computers. Playing with other people in a high stress environment for hours kept adrenaline pumping and in turn kept appetites low. When players did eat it usually was something entirely unhealthy and quick. I can tell you that ramen and PB&J were my go to foods.

            Other significant health risks were noted as well. People who sat in hard chairs for significant periods of time developed blood clots. There was also one instance where a student deprived himself of so much sleep that he suffered heart trouble. Psychological risks were noted in a few other articles I found. A few of those were parents that let their newborn baby starve to death because of their FarmVille addiction. The told police that they had lost track of time and did not realize that they had let so much time pass between normal feedings.

            Time loss is something I feel that is glossed over in the gaming world. It has become something of joke to most of us that play video games. Even now at my age I still can get lost in a good game. It is in no way on the scale that I used to play, but my wife can attest to my statements of “I will only play for 30 minutes” only to realize that two hours had passed.

            Like all things though I feel this is a shortcoming of the individual. I do not blame my binge on the gaming industry, society, or anything else for that matter. Just like gambling, alcohol consumption, and other addicting activities/substances it is the users job to recognize when they are going to far. Research does show that certain parts of the brain that show addictive tendencies do light up when players are engaging in these activities, but I do not feel gaming is horrible. If done in moderation there is a lot of good that can come from it. Things like special analysis, mathematical understand, language understanding, cultural understanding, economic understanding, etc. Good does far outweigh the bad, but we as a society need to acknowledge that moderation is good and pursing a good thing to where it affects other aspects of our lives is not a good thing.

 

What do you all think? Feel free to message me if you want to talk more on any of these subjects. AAS5446

Sources:

Game Related Deaths

Spike’s Top 10 Gaming Deaths

Effects of Social Gaming

Negative Effects to Children

E-How Article

percocet addiction

I come from a town about 35 minutes outside of Philadelphia. My graduation class was over 900 and my high school had nearly 4,000 students. Having such a large amount of students it was not possible to know everyone, but there was a group of at least 50 kids that I talked to on a regular basis. Sadly, almost half of those 50 kids I regularly talked to now suffer from addiction of percocet. Percocet is a proscription drug made for a pain killer. It is an opiate and a step down from heroine. It is extremely addictive and very easy to get off of the streets. Most people get addicted from experiencing pain and being prescribed the drug. Although, a lot of people also get addicted from simply abusing the high it causes. High school students start taking percocets just to have fun and experiment. Before they can even realize it, they are hooked. Knowing so many people suffering with addiction to percocet, I decided to do some research on the drug.

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I found some information related to the drug. Percocet is a combination of oxycodone and acetaminophen (a.k.a Tylenol). It is prescribed for reliving pain and is the most common prescription drug addiction. The aspect of percocet that makes it addictive is the narcotic oxycodone. Oxycodone causes pain relief which triggers psychological addiction. The analgesic effect causes pain receptors to block the release of pain to the body. They body gets used to not feeling the pain and becomes more dependent on the drug. Once addicted, the body needs the drug or else it will go through withdraw. Some of the withdraw symptoms are throwing up, fever, nausea, the shakes and intense headaches. Most continue to abuse percocet just to avoid the withdraw symptoms.

The biggest problem with percocet’s is the prescriptions being written by the doctors. I found an article that was very alarming. In 1998 the International Narcotics Control Board estimated that 11.5 tons of oxycodone was manufactured world wide and by 2007 it escalated to 75.2 tons. The U.S. consumes the majority of oxycodone produced and used 51.6 out of the 75.2 tons manufactured on 2007. That is an 82% consumption just in the United States. The more the drug is manufactured, the more revenue pharmaceutical companies will bring in. As long as the drug companies are getting their money, they could care less if the drug is being used for pain or if it is being abused by addicts.

Percocets are not only addictive, but if they are not prescribed by a Dr. with a daily dosages, they can be lethal. From 2001-2005 the unintentional death rate related to percocet and other opioid use increased 114%. So many lives could have been save if they were not abusing drugs. In 2007, the American Poison Control Centers reported 15,069 cases and 7,528 single exposures related to oxycodone drugs. Clearly this is a big problem. Why hasn’t something been done? Because the drug bring in money.

I tried to find studies related to percocet addiction, but failed to do so. Clearly there needs to be something done in regards to the abuse of the drug. Scientists need to discover a way to make pain killers non-addictive. Police need to do a better job of keeping the drug from being sold on the streets. If something isn’t done soon, percocet addiction is going to be like the black plague and being to take over. Just like cancer, addiction is a disease that there is yet no definite cure for. 

The Twinkie: 1933-2012

twinkie 1.jpgOn Novemeber 21, 2012 the infamous Hostess Company officially declared bankruptcy and began to liquidate its assets due to a Bakers Union strike.  A sad day for Ho Ho lovers, Ding Dong lovers, Wonder Bread lovers, Donette lovers, Devil Dog lovers, Yodel lovers, and of course: Twinkie lovers.  I am proud to say that I haven’t had more than five Hostess products in my entire life.  However, what is the appeal to some people? Why did people rush to the stores to buy their last boxes of Twinkies though? What makes them so popular?

According to a study published in the Nature Neuroscience Journal, researchers of the Scripps Research Institute in Florida tested whether rats would prefer to eat high calorie, junk food or healthy food.   The researchers split the rats into three groups; the first group was fed only healthy food, the second group was fed healthy food but had access to the junk food for one hour during the day, and the third group was given healthy food but had access to junk food around the clock.  The rats, like many humans, more often than not chose to eat the junk food in excess amounts and the rats in the third group demonstrated addictive behavior when choosing which food they were going to consume.  The researchers found that the more junk food that the rats ate; the more they wanted because their stomachs and brains weren’t satisfied.  The levels of the dopamine receptor, in the brains of the rats in the third group, that allows for reward significantly decreased as the study progressed, much like the chemicals in a human brain do with the continued addiction to drugs.  Another interesting fact about this study is that the rats in the third group were trained ahead of time to be afraid of bright light exposure.  However, when the rats were eating the junk food and a flash of bright light occurred, the rats did not care.  They just kept eating the junk food and showed no reaction to the flash of light.

Dr. Eric Stice, a neuroscientist from the Oregon Research Institute, was featured on CBS’s 60 Minutes and reported similar findings.  After reviewing MRI brain scans, sugar activates the same region of the brain that is activated when addicts are using their drug of choice.  He also reported that “heavy users of sugar develop a tolerance to sugar.” (Stice)  The fact that people can build up a tolerance to sugar, sugar activates the same region of the brain as drugs, and the levels of the dopamine receptors greatly decreased as the study went on are very convincing findings that sugar can be addictive.  Due to the high sugar content in Twinkies, people who are addicted to sugar may use Twinkies as their ‘source.’

The nutritional value of Twinkies is pathetic and would certainly fall under the researchers’ classification of ‘junk food.’  One Twinkie has 2.5 grams of saturated fats, 20 milligrams of cholesterol, 220 milligrams of sodium, 27 grams of carbohydrates, and 19 grams of sugar!! The nutritional facts are just the beginning of it, the shelf life is centuries.  A Twinkie will never go bad; it will never get moldy, and it will never taste different.  This is because of all of the preservatives in them that are chemically made and injected into the batter and the cream filling.

Even though rats were used for the first study, the rats were very well controlled.  By splitting the rats into three different groups and setting the first group as a very clear control group, the researchers were able to take out extraneous variables.  However, they used rats, not humans.  Even though rats are commonly used in studies to prove or disprove effects that certain foods or drugs have on humans, they are still rats.  I don’t think that either of the studies presented were due to chance because they prove each other and there are countless other studies out there that prove sugar is addictive and can be harmful to our systems in excess.   So, from the research presented about the addictive qualities about junk food and sugar, I am inclined to conclude that people who are (were) addicted to Twinkies were addicted to their high sugar content and Twinkies were their outlet.  People are paying over $50 for a box of Twinkies off of eBay!  In the long run, maybe the bankruptcy of the Hostess Company will be good for America and our problem with obesity by eliminating some of the worst snack foods on the shelves.  What are your opinions? Do you think that people can actually be addicted to sugar (i.e. Twinkies)?  Or is it more of just a correlation between the brain activity and sugar consumption?  Why does the same part of the brain light up when sugar is consumed as when drugs are consumed by someone who is addicted to them?

**All sources used are in the links within the blog.

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Read This Blog and Win a Prize!

Ok, I lied… There is no prize for reading this blog, but it does elude to the topic I want to cover. A while ago I had a pretty lengthy conversation with a friend of mine on pointless lies. We talked about the stupid things we have said that really gave us no gain other than to fill silence. The most memorable part of this conversation was a story that he told me.

Facts

It was my first semester at Penn Sate and I was sharing with him how ever class I am in does some sort of round robin game where we have to tell the class something about ourselves. I remember saying that usually I have nothing of significance to say and more often than not I blank and end up just saying some half truth or full on lie. He then shared his story about how his first year at Penn State he was asked to share something about himself. My friend being a writer and having a great imagination happened to blank this particular time and began to tell the most ridiculous lie ever. He stood up in front of the class and went on to share with the class about how at that time the year before he weighed 400 pounds.

I guess by my obvious look of shock (my friend at this point still weighed over 200 pounds) he started laughing and said the whole class began some kind of slow motivational clap that grew into a roar. We laughed about it, but it got me thinking. Why do we say things like this? I cannot fault him for his lie as I have done the same thing in front of a class. I was giving a presentation on laptops and their progression over the decades. The last example I gave was a new computer that weighed just over a pound. When a student asked me how much one of the older laptops weighed I quickly answered around 15 pounds. Some of the students in the class realized my blatant lie and began to laugh. The other students all nodded their heads in amazement that we had come so far with technology.

Why is it so hard for us to admit we don’t know or that we did or didn’t say/do something? I began to research this a bit and found that really the medical community doesn’t have a solid answer. I did find that lying is divided into two categories Pathological and Compulsive. Pathological lying is a bit darker and tends to fall more in line with psychological disorders such as bi-polar, narcissism, and borderline personality disorder. Pathological lying is used as a gain by the person intentionally deceive people and further their imaginary life. It is generally noted as being the most destructive as these lies tend to be more significant and intricate. I found a few help websites that really illuminated the problem that it really is. One website found here is full of people begging for help as if it was some sort of addiction.

Compulsive lying is a bit different. Everything that I have read on this subject instead tells a story of people put on the spot trying to escape some sort of negative consequence. It is the fear of repercussion that causes the person to lie. There is no intricate story or double life here, but just a person trying to escape the real or imagined trouble that may come from answering the question unfavorably.
Quoted from eHow Health, “Compulsive liars feel the undeniable need to lie regardless of the situation, while pathological liars usually only lie when it will help them in some way.”

 
Compulsive lying is also linked to ADHD and other disorders that cause people to have difficulty thinking.

So far the only way to combat this is like any other addiction. First, admit it is a problem and second get help. Every person that has asked what to do on any forum or question board has had the same answer given to them. You need to find help and come clean.

What do you all think? What’s the most ridiculous lie you have told?

I leave you with one of my favorite lying videos.
Lamas with hats (I suggest you watch them all!)

Some more reading if interested –

Psychology of lies

Caffeine Fiend

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I’d like to think I could give up coffee at will, and that I only drink it ’cause it’s available…but I would be lying to myself.

They say the first step is admitting there is a problem, so here it goes:
My name is Alex, and I am addicted to coffee.
But what does that really mean, addicted to coffee?
After reading up on Yahoo Health, turns out caffeine is the number one addiction, affecting millions of people who don’t even know they have a problem. Caffeine has a hormonal effect on the body. You get a rush of adrenaline that helps people *cough* like students writing blogs *cough* stay awake and get a burst of energy. This boost can last anywhere from 4-6 hours, however once your hormones balance out, you crash. To compensate we (okay, I), drink more coffee.
Obviously, coffee is not the only caffeinated beverage, the same cycle happens with soda, tea, and energy drinks. 
But is it honestly that bad?
Apparently, excessive caffeine leads to an increase in cortisol which leads to rapid weight gain, irritability, heart disease, and diabetes. 
Not too pleasant, if you ask me. 
Then, when you do try to cut back (or maybe you just don’t have access to a coffee shop), you start to experience these withdrawal symptoms:
headaches, mood swings, extreme fatigue, muscle ache, nausea, loss of appetite, confusion, poor memory, and lack of concentration.
The sad thing is, all I can think about is that as long as I don’t cut back, I won’t have to experience these issues. I just feel like the long term affects aren’t that bad, and can generally be alleviated with more caffeine consumption.
But maybe, I’m just crazy.
Any fellow addicts out there?

Tanning Similar to Drug Addiction?

Tanning has become more and more popular and many people will say that having dark skin makes you look and feel better. Television shows like the Jersey Shore, actually view tanning as part of their lifestyle. We have all seen that dark bronze girl walking around in the dead of winter and joke to each other saying “someone’s addicted to tanning”. Now, new studies are showing that the statement may be true.

When I think of someone being addicted to tanning, I think they are just addicted to the way they look when they are tan. Similar to women who always get their nails done, it is not physically addicting but they continue to do it because they simply love the way their nails look after a trip to the salon. New studies are showing that the UV lights in tanning beds actually activate parts of the brain that play a role in addiction. One study concluded saying UV light was a type of substance disorder.

UT Southwestern medical center researched it even further saying “people who frequently use tanning beds may be spurred by an addictive neurological reward-and-reinforcement trigger”.  In this experiment, frequent tanners participated in this study and went tanning on two different occasions. One was a controlled occasion where they went to a regular tanning bed and were exposed to the UV light and the other where a special filter blocked only the UV light without the tanners’ knowledge. By using a radioisotpe, they were able to monitor the brain activity during each tanning session. Brain images showed that when the study subjects were exposed to UV rays, the areas of the brain that are associated with addiction were activated much more than when they were not exposed to the UV light.

The participants were also asked after each tanning session how much they wanted to tan again. The tanners who were just exposed to the UV light had less desire saying they’ve “gotten their fix” and the tanners who were not exposed to the UV light felt that they needed to go tanning again.

An article in the New York Times explains another reason tanners are addicted to tanning is because “tanners also report mood enhancement, relaxation and socialization”. Most of these results show that tanning is addiciting in some way or the other, but does it affect every person the same way? Does it affect someone who lives in New York differently than someone who lives in Florida? Whether the UV light is physically activating addiction in the brain or girls simply just want the look of dark skin, women continue to tan despite the known risks associated with tanning.

Food is Affecting the Brain and Causing Addiction

Whether it is eating a greasy cheeseburger, a frosted donut or an extra slice a pizza; food has an affect on everyone’s brain.  I am not talking about how this type of food impacts one’s blood flow or growth of bones, but I am talking about these greasy foods altering the way people think and react in a very negative way.  

A study done by CNN shows results of a test that explicitly show a direct correlation between eating unhealthy and the amount of activity it takes one’s brain to come to an answer compared to a person eating a little healthier.  The study goes on to show that in 29 participants the over weight adults had a much tougher time identifying words when written in different colors.  The study used the example, that the word red would be printed in red, or it would be printed in blue making it more challenging to quickly state the word.  The overwhelming results were stated that the healthier and less obese a person was, the easier time they had deciphering the words.  The only problem I have with the study, is that it is not explained how randomly allocated the participants were or anything else about them.  

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Another study I found relates the negative impact of food on the brain, to the addiction problem of food in the obese people around the world.   A study was done with three groups of rats and they were given three different eating patterns.  The first control group was given regular rat food, the second was allowed to eat fatty and sugary foods for one hour a day, and the third group was allowed to eat as much fatty foods as they wanted for however long they wanted.  The results were that both the 2nd and 3rd group became fat.  The reason behind the 2nd group of rats becoming obese were linked to the idea that they had to make up for the less amount of time to eat by binge-eating.  A more scientifically explained reasoning is int he article, but that was basically the generic synopsis.  

Now another variable that was given to the rats was that before the study, all the rats were trained to escape a little electrical shock while eating, which would mean they would stop eating and run away.  After the rats became obese from the food, the took no interest in running away from the shock because they had to keep eating.  They were as the article states “ignoring the threat of punishment,” which is the same trait that was demonstrated in a similar study done with rats when given cocaine.

Now I am quite aware that people are not rats.  However these two studies are very compelling in that fact that they are not far fetched.  All of this seems plausible to me.  And it makes me wonder, as I open up a question to think about, is it possible to be addicted to food?  And by that I mean, going through depression if one has not had it’s normal intake of food, or go through other withdrawal symptoms.  To me it seems extremely likely that it is true, what do you all think?

Addictions

Today I came across a very interesting video, on abcnews.com , about a tennage boy with an addiction. His addiction is not the typically drug or alcohol addiction but instead an addiction to pornography. To watch this interesting video on our generation, XXX, being addicted to porn click here. But, after watching this I wondered how do you know when something you do is considered to be an addiction? And, doesn’t an addiction have to be something you do everyday?

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After doing some research I learned that an addiction can be a dependence someone has on a certain substance or a behavioral addiction, such as gambling. The boy mentioned earlier is an example of a behavorial addiction. One is addicted to something when they repeat a behavior and have the feeling that they need it to carry on in life. “Addictictions are repetitive behaviors in the face of negative consequences, the desire to continue something you know is bad for you,” says Joseph Frascella, director of the division of clinical neuroscience at the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).

In one article I learned that investigators have begun to try and figure out what is going on in the brain of an addict to cause them to become addicted to something, They are using technology such as PET scans to scan the brain and see which regions are affected by their addictions.

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To answer my question earlier about having to do something everyday to be considered an addiction, I learned on medicalnewstoday.com that it does not necessarily have to occur everday but rather it has to be something that one can not control. On the other hand, if you do something by choice and could sucessfully stop if you wanted to, it is not an addiciton, it is a habbit.

In a timemagazine article I read that “everyone will become an addict if sufficiently exposed to drugs or alcohol,” and I don’t agree with it. Do you?