Anyone suffering from addiction knows that a key component of this struggle is the need to feed the cravings or “scratch the itch.” Compulsion is a factor that drives the behaviour, making it easy to justify just one more fix.
In the beginning, the use of an addictive substance isn’t driven by compulsion. But, the compulsive tendencies build over time, eventually making them the main driver that keeps a person stuck in addiction. Even though the first use of the substance was a choice, it quickly incorporates compulsion that takes away the voluntary behaviour in the matter.
The Difference Between Addiction and Compulsion
People commonly refer to addiction and compulsion as synonyms, but there are a few distinct differences between addiction and compulsion. “Addiction” is a general term that refers to a situation where people are dependent on a specific behaviour or substance, often as a coping method. Substance use continues, even when the consequences are harmful to self or others.
On the other hand, “compulsion” is an urge to do something specific. Often, small compulsions can lead to addictive behaviour. A compulsion is a small part of the addictive process, but other factors play a role in the addiction as well.
Relationship: How Compulsion Affects Addiction
As the addiction develops over time, the person feels the desire to use an addictive substance. This desire leads to compulsion, which has the person acting in a way that they feel like they can’t stop. For example, if someone is suffering from Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), then they have the compulsion to act in a certain manner. Often, the behaviour is repeated to reduce feelings of anxiety.
Recent studies show that people suffering from addiction experience a flow of activity that moves them from a stimulus to a response. Specific parts of the brain are affected, leading to compulsive actions that are characteristic of addiction. The compulsion results from a surge in emotion that leads the person to act in a specific way to expect a reward.
Changing the Patterns
Addiction is a complex topic that can’t be solved with one thought or idea. But, understanding the connection between addiction and compulsion can be an empowering experience for someone battling addiction. When a person can see that compulsive behaviour is still a part of the conscious stream of decisions, then an opportunity is available to change the patterns.
Yes, the compulsion intensifies with continued substance abuse over the years. Regardless of the severity of the addiction, it is possible to identify the impulse that occurs before the compulsive behaviour, which creates a window to make a change. The more a person recognizes their impulses, the better chance that they can control the patterns and rewire the brain to create new habits.
Hope in Recovery
Just because you or a loved one is suffering from addiction, it doesn’t mean that you need to be trapped by compulsion. A holistic, therapeutic approach to recovery makes it possible to change the neuropathways and create a new lifestyle. The best results happen with a mix of physical, emotional, and mental support in recovery.
The first step is to find substance use disorder treatment, so that you don’t have to attempt this journey without support. The right treatment program provides the tools and solutions that will change the trajectory of your life. These services offer a powerful way to break their habits and get a fresh start and a new perspective.