Why is stopping so hard?

20 June 2013

Question

Why do people find stopping an addiction such a hard thing to do?

Answer

Dr Amy Milton from Cambridge University tackles James' question......

Amy - Well, what happens in addiction is that drugs of abuse, what they're doing is having into the reward and motivational system. That exists so that you know what to do, certain things are good for you, so to promote you looking for food, to promote you looking for mates, and to make you avoid things that are bad for you. So, these are really evolutionary ancient systems. When they control behaviour, they do so in quite an unconscious way. You don't really want to be standing there, debating what you should be doing when there's a predator that's about to jump on you. However, when you have a drug of abuse doing this, these mechanisms are then diverted into drug seeking behaviour. As with all behaviours, repetition breeds habits and the thing about addiction is that these habits become compulsive, so you lose that break on behaviour.

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