29 minutes | Jul 23, 2018

Episode 073: Why Strong -Willed Children Are More Likely To Become Addicts

Listen here or READ the post below. When I’m not at home or being a parent, I get to be a dental hygienist.  To keep my license current I have to take a certain amount of health science classes each year.  In one class that I took on the brain and addiction, I learned that strong-willed kids are far more likely struggle with addiction. As a parent of a strong-willed child and aunt to many more, I was really concerned. So today and next week, we’re going to learn more about addiction and why our strong-willed kids struggle with it more. Here's my interview with Mike Fitch, CMHC about addictions. Mike Fitch CMHC A lot of my clients struggle with addiction.  It is just becoming so common. We are constantly surrounded by things that we can get addicted to.  We’re not just talking drugs today but also food, porn, and electronics. What’s saddest to me is how often people are very innocently exposed to addiction and get trapped. In fact, a recent study stated that kids will be exposed to porn by age 8-10 and struggle with a full-blown porn addiction by age twelve! We want our kids to be happy, healthy adults and it’s SO MUCH Harder to be happy and healthy when you’re constantly thinking about your next “fix”. This post will cover what an addiction is, what’s happening in the brain, and why strong-willed kids are more likely to struggle with addiction.  Next week we’ll talk about prevention, early warning signs, and treatment. The BRAIN Why we get addicted to things. Addiction has so much to do with our ancestors. Millenia ago, our ancestors were only able to survive if they were able to eat, explore, avoid predators, and procreate. To aid our ancestors, the brain developed three hormones that in appropriate amounts help us feel good, but in high amounts, can become highly addictive.  Those three hormones are: Adrenaline-the fight or flight hormone. Gets your heart rate higher when faced with a dangerous situation. Dopamine-the feel good hormone released when eating high calorie foods or during sex. Endorphins-the pain reliever released when injured or on long distant runs. In our ancestors time, these hormones were needed almost daily in order for an individual to survive. Now, our survival isn’t so complicated and these hormones are too easy to release and too easy to become addicted to.   Are these hormones bad? It's good to feel each of these hormones to some level, when it encourages healthy activity.  The problem that we run into is that we’ve found ways to release these hormones in unnaturally high amounts. Easily.  With the easy access, we keep crave more and more of these hormones. What causes us to  want a release of these hormones? There are some uncomfortable emotions that we seek to reduce the pain of emotions by finding something that will release a high amount of adrenaline, endorphins, or dopamine. What emotions make turn to addictions? We use an acronym to remember the emotion that cause people to turn to addictions to feel good. The acronym is BLAST Blast stands for: Bored Lonely Angry Stressed Tired Each of these emotions are so uncomfortable to our brains, that our brain starts telling us to seek out a hormone to alleviate the discomfort. That’s why you start looking in your pantry for a high-calorie food when you’re stressed or bored.  Your brain is begging you to find relief from that uncomfortable emotion. It’s important to find healthy ways to release the hormones in our brain, but it’s quicker to relieve a BLAST emotion with food, sex, electronics, etc. New neural pathways Everyone’s brain is made up of millions of little pathways for information to travel on.  These pathways are called neural pathways. What many people don’t realize is that addiction lays down new neural pathways that support addiction rather than supporting health.  The new neural pathways send information that you are “starving” for more ...
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