Is Pleasure an Addiction?
When I naïvely asked the above question over a very pleasurable lunch with my friends, I got the following not very pleasurable reactions:
“Give me a break—having a few drinks after shopping for a couple hours is an addiction?”
“Are you telling us that having a good time addictive?”
My answer: “Okay, guys, what do you expect me to do, here” —leave, or explain what I was trying to say?”
Their response: “You’re addicted to explanations, anyway, so go ahead and clarify your statement.”
What is pleasure? According to https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/pleasure, pleasure is “A feeling of happy satisfaction and enjoyment, or an event or activity from which one derives enjoyment.”
Here’s my question for you: What do you really enjoy a lot?
Video games? Gambling? Drinking alcohol? Eating sugary foods? Shopping? Using street drugs? Cheating on your partner? Watching TV endlessly…watching porn or scary movies?
All of the above could become addictions.
Because they give you pleasure; they stimulate the brain’s pleasure centre.
Any kind of stimulation of the pleasure centre releases massive amounts of dopamine, which is a neurotransmitter and a neurohormone produced in the brain.
Don’t stimulate your brain’s pleasure centre too often—you can wear it out! The intense and repeated release of dopamine will damage the receptors in your brain and cause them to tire of stimulation.
We people like dopamine very much. In the field of science, dopamine is called “the pleasure neurotransmitter.” With adequate amounts of dopamine, we feel good, happy, and satisfied.
And what’s wrong with that? Nothing, really…except that many illegal drugs and the other things people enjoy, such as those mentioned above, also target with the brain’s pleasure receptors, releasing dopamine and contributing to possible addiction.
Individuals who are addicted engage in the process of releasing dopamine even if they know it’s bad for them.
The brain’s pleasure centre can be damaged not only by overuse but by toxins or head trauma, as well. The result is the same.
After a while, an individual will need more stimulation or more extended periods of intense stimulation just to release adequate amounts of dopamine. What follows this overuse is that the brain’s pleasure centre will be less responsive.
Translated, less responsive simply means that the brain will produce less dopamine.
But we do need dopamine—right?
Yes, we do. However, when less dopamine is released, a person may be headed for depression or for an addiction to the original stimulus (e.g., nicotine, drugs, alcohol).
In the beginning, a person turns to “pleasure”; after the brain’s pleasure receptors are overused for a period of time, however, he or she is at risk for addiction.
In light of the information I’ve just shared, is the question, “Is pleasure an addiction” a valid one? The answer is a definite “yes,” since any overuse of pleasure can lead to addiction.
Of course, it’s important to enjoy the things you love—doing so makes for a happy and satisfying life. However, as the saying goes, “All things in moderation.” If you keep this in mind, you’ll steer clear of the path to addiction.