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Behavioral and Chemical Addictions

1. The two chemicals of addiction selected for this case are widely classified as depressants and stimulants. Chemicals of addiction create an individual mechanism that is likely to affect different people in various ways. Consequently, common point to note is that addiction alters the basic mechanism of operations in the human body whereby the substances of abuse not only activate but also stimulate the reward system of the body. The first chemical of addiction is widely identified as depressants, which include alcohol and the use of narcotics. These substances have been associated with the altering of the body functions by inhibiting the release of dopamine.

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The National Institute on Drug Abuse identified that the common symptom of depressant usage is that the addicts are unable to control their intake which leads to excessive use. Such addictions become habitual and when not partaken could lead to depression. The addict loses interest in activities that are productive or pleasurable. They feel the urge to use such depressant as alcohol from time to time. There is physical withdrawal from activities. The addict carries the drugs to work and home among other unlikely places. The second chemical addiction relates to stimulants which have different symptoms. Stimulants include drugs such as cocaine and nicotine whose symptoms include increased alertness among the users, increased energy, and causal to pleasant feelings. When the user does not experience the pleasant feeling, they feel depressed thus their urge for redoing the drugs increases.

The two selected behaviors of addiction are pathological gambling and internet addiction. Both have similar symptoms associated with inability to resist impulses associated with such a behavior. The addicts are physically tempted or unconsciously driven into performing the act which could be harmful to self or others. Hoffman (2011) states that in case of pathological gambling, the victim finds himself or herself in a casino. Such people have an urge to use the money even if it involves taking a loan to gamble. The habit grows stronger that they even lose their jobs.  In the case of internet addiction, browsing the internet often occurs in a recurrent pattern where some features become specific to a given domain. Repetitive usage of the internet often interferes with the functioning of the brain of the victims who become dependent on the internet; thus they have a high affinity for some sites including pornography and social networking sites.

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2. Grant, Potenza, Weinstein and Gorelick (2010) in the article “Introduction to Behavioral Addictions” identify the differences and similarities encompassed in both behavioral and chemical addictions. Research identified that analyzing addictions in terms of their adverse consequences, phenomenology and natural history exhibited similarities. Both behavioral and chemical addictions begin during adolescence or young adulthood. They both have natural histories associated with relapsing patterns and chronic disorders. In both cases the victims can quit or recover without undergoing formal treatment in what is referred to as spontaneous quitting.  Additionally, similarities are noted in their phenomenology. In both cases, people report a craving or an intense urge to use a particular substance or indulge in a certain behavior. It is only after using the chemical or undertaking the behavioral practice that the person feels relieved, but the feeling is short-lived. This leads to anxiety and depression which calls upon gratification of the urges. If a person is unable to resist the urge, then he or she will do it again and again. Such a state leads to addictions associated with emotional dysregulation which is a pertinent factor in initiating craving in both chemical and behavioral disorders.

There is also a similarity in the functioning of the body when having the craving or urge for a certain substance of abuse or behavior. It is said that the ego-syntonic nature of the human brain evokes a similar experiential feeling in both the user of chemical substances and a behavioral addict. This ego-dystonic nature is paralleled to an obsessive-compulsive disorder where both categories of addicts become less ego-syntonic after committing the act. Participating in the behavior for a long time decreases the pleasurable part of it while increasing the addiction or the need for gratification which is not necessarily stimulated by the need for pleasure but compulsion. This is what psychologists define as an addiction because the addicts in both cases easily become motivated by negative reinforcement such as the feeling of relief created after compulsion rather than the positive reinforcement associated with behavior. This similarity is further associated with the ability to quit the behavior or use of chemical substances as the victims in both cases become unconscious of their physical urges thus the body is inclined towards doing these acts involuntarily whenever a chance avails itself.

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The main difference between behavioral and chemical addictions is that whereas the use of chemical substances causes intoxication as in the case of depressants and stimulants listed in the first part of the paper, behavioral addictions lead to a feeling of gratification. This feeling is preceded by arousal or tension which leads a person into performing the act. Doing the act, the person feels a sense of pleasure or gratification. The person involved in such behavioral addictions as pathological gambling and internet addiction feels relieved after committing the act. In spite of the difference in the result or the feelings evoked in the victims, it is prudent to note that the chemical addictions are induced into a person’s body. This results in the alteration of the physical and biological components in the body of the user as in the case of cocaine or alcohol usage. On the other hand, behavioral abuse does not involve the addition of physical substances into the body which makes it even easier to treat or quit as compared to chemical addictions.

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