Are Odd Addictions Harmful?

We all are aware of how harmful addiction to drugs and alcohol are for people and their loved ones. Drugs and alcohol are the most common addictions, but there are people who become addicted to some bizarre things, and it has an affect on the brain and the body just like any other substance. Are addictions to eating chalk or carrying around and sleeping with a hairdryer harmful or just quirky? How in the world did I get addicted to memory training and memory tournaments?! HAHAHA

This is without a doubt one of the most fascinating brain concepts we could discuss and I wanted to bring it to the table. My desire to compete in the USA Memory Championship was a lot about breaking addictions for me. Sure I wanted to improve my memory and compete in a memory training tournament but I also wanted to break my addiction to alcohol (so I gave it up 90 days prior to tournament), sleeping late (I was up every day by 8:30), getting fat (I lost 20 pounds) and even more. I had so many addictions but breaking these addictions actually helped give me the confidence that I needed to win the USA Memory Championship for the first time in 2009.

Addiction comes in all forms, and just because it seems harmless doesn’t mean it is. All addiction have physical and psychological causes, and effects. Addiction begins with the release of the chemical dopamine into the pleasure and reward system in the brain. These rewards systems are intentionally designed to give gratification when ingesting something that pleases you — such as a piece of cheesecake or a bite of chocolate.   If too much of that substance is ingested, however, it could lead to addiction. When not getting the substance it receives pleasure from the body starts to crave it. The brain is telling the body it needs that substance, and the addiction is born. Without it the body goes into withdrawal. Wouldn’t it be great if instead we could get addicted to the idea of improving our memory?

Addiction is a secret problem. People who are addicted hide their addiction. Over a period of time they are no longer able to keep the secret because there are too many indicators there is a problem — attitude changes, memory problems, instability, physical changes, etc.

Addicts cannot quit their dependence on their own. Some addicts, especially those with a drug or alcohol dependency, have had their brains altered by the use of drugs and alcohol. Other addictions can be just as physically life threatening, like eating plastic and other substances containing chemicals. All of them are mentally and emotionally crippling. Addiction is an illness that requires treatment, which may include counseling, behavioral therapy, self-help groups and even medical intervention. It is not a matter of making up your mind to stop. An addict seeks comfort; this is the base of all varieties of addiction.

Addiction usually begins with depression, and the object of their addiction seems to make them feel better — temporarily. They need that “feel good” in order to get through their problems. They begin to slowly distance themselves from the people and things they held important. Their moods become up and down. The longer the addiction goes untreated, more irreparable damage will be created.

This is Ron White, two-time USA Memory Champion , memory training expert, and memory keynote speaker. The addict and their family and friends often are in denial, especially when the addiction is bizarre. Denial is one of the biggest enablers, especially when dealing with behavioral addictions. Identifying addictive behavior opens the door to recovery. Recovery allows the brain and body, as well as the memory, to get back to good health.

 Memory Training


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