I love coffee. I love cocktails or delicious wine after a long day or to lighten the mood. I love bacon, cheese, fresh fruit, chocolate, toasted nuts, and this and that… Is it a habit or is it something I must have or else? Some researchers say food addiction is potentially a dangerous public health message. Whether or not that’s true, does it matter if it’s something you’re struggling with?
What about you? How about the mini-computer in your hand… that cell phone also known to many as the direct source of life and connection. The quality of connection and interaction via screen time… is it critical to your survival or is it easy to set aside for real people in your life? Maybe the path of addiction is paved with not being able to bear being present in your current daily life. I’m not innocent here.
The involvement of the brain is key in diagnosing addiction. Areas of the brain light up such as pleasure, reward, decision making, and chemical signals between those regions dance and develop a biological response hence “cravings”. Labeling it on the DSM-IV is a controversial topic, but here’s a link to see for yourself if you wish to explore Yale Food Addiction Scale
Knowing isn’t all it takes right? We would be all set because Google search is research right? Very funny. Despite knowing tobacco is bad for health, of the 35 million people that seriously try to quit each year, less than 7% stop smoking for good. Do we love them through it or punish them by shaming or separating them?
For example, we’re not rats, but I’m still going to make a point by referring to a research study with rats next. Put a rat in a simple empty cage with two water bottles, one with 100% water and another laced with heroin. Poor rat goes more often to the heroin infused water and eventually overdoses. However, one professor decided to explore how the rat’s environment affected their choice. Professor Emeritus Bruce Alexander of Simon Fraser University, created “Rat Park”, an enclosure with all of the their social and biological ‘needs’ met, such as friends, fun, food and sex options. Guess which water the rats drank? 100% clean nearly all of the time. The rats hardly touched the heroin infused water and not one rat overdosed. Maybe their needs were met? All areas of the brain & heart satisfied without the drug.
This is not to say it’s all figured out, it just a meaningful and thought provoking study that is very worthy of understanding. We’ve traded the space in our homes and around the table for more contacts or followers on social media…it’s a parody of real relationships. When it comes down to a real need or crisis in your life, it may not be your Instagram & Twitter followers that show up at the door to support or help you. So, do we turn to food, substances, gaming and internet to avoid the feeling or nurture the wound?
Maybe the opposite of addiction is not sobriety or abstinence. Consider the opposite of addiction as connection and love. One question to ask, do your kids have regular experiences of talking with a friend face to face and able to sit with and respond to ups and downs of the conversation and the awkward feelings? Can they bond through that? This may be inspiring or this may be annoyingly trite. Either way, keep in touch. Meaningful Monday blog will continue to evolve and aim to add value in your life. Mary