While most would like to believe that the term addict is limited to those who abuse drugs, alcohol, sex, and the like, truth is, more people than would like to admit are addicted to something. Whether that be food, anger, isolation, or relationships, in a broad sense, addiction can be thought of anything that limits you from cultivating than internal relationship with self. The question is, in times of stress, worry, and concern, do you turn outwards or inwards. That is the true meaning of addiction.
Salon takes a look at David J. Linden’s new book, The Compass of Pleasure, in this latest post. Linden, a brain scientist and professor of neuroscience at Johns Hopkins, uses the book to explain what happens in a person’s brain when one indulges in activities that take a person outside of oneself versus what happens when a person uses things like meditation to turn within.
Many addicts will tell you that relapse is almost always triggered by stress. This means if you’re a former addict trying to stay clean, one of the best things you can do is engage in behaviors that reduce your stress level — things like exercise, meditation, prayer or interacting with pets. We know that when you undergo stress, your adrenal gland secretes stress hormones, which bind to receptors within your pleasure circuitry and produce a set of alterations that make you crave your drug or behavior of choice. In the future, helping addicts stay clean may involve pharmacological intervention to reduce stress hormones.
Read more from Linden on using meditation to stay sober and clean here.