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Treating the Affective Components of Addiction

There are many components that play into the development of addiction, some of which are:

  • Cognitive
  • Behavioral
  • Genetic
  • Biological
  • Environmental
  • Affective

An affective component refers to an individual’s feelings or emotions. Affective components play a major role in the development of addiction because humans are heavily influenced by feeling and emotion. Affective factors can contribute to both the physical and psychological aspects of addiction.

Negative feelings and emotions can become so painful that they drive an individual to use substances like drugs or alcohol, or engage in addictive behaviors like shopping, gambling or sex. Drugs and alcohol work on the brain’s central nervous system and activate neurotransmitters that allow a person to experience pain, pleasure etc. Depending on the exact substance used, a person can temporarily block out or alleviate painful feelings and emotions. Addictive behaviors like sex, gambling, and eating can also activate the brain’s reward center by releasing specific chemicals like dopamine and serotonin.

When the brain’s reward center is sparked or an individual is able to block out painful feelings and emotions, the individual will be prompted to return to the substance or behavior when they again feel low or upset. Over time, this repeated behavior can cause a physical dependence to the substance or a psychological addiction to the rewarding sensations – or both. At this point the individual’s addictive behavior becomes compulsive and continues despite the harmful consequences.

Affective components can include affective disorders, or mood disorders, like depression, mania, bipolar disorder and more. These symptoms of affective disorders can be overwhelming and life-crippling. It is common for individuals with mood disorders to turn to drugs or alcohol to self-medicate their painful feelings and emotions. Due to the longevity of mood disorders, individuals seeking mood-improving substances or behaviors tend to fall into addictive behavior because the behaviors are long-term.

Common Affective Components that Influence Addiction

The affective components that influence addiction are intense and difficult to cope with. These components may derive from a variety of things such as peer pressure, mood disorders, mental health illness, trauma, tragedy and so on. Whatever the cause, these issues can make life emotionally difficult. The most common affective components that influence addiction include:

  • Persistent feelings of sadness
  • Feeling hopeless, helpless, or in despair
  • Low self-worth and self-esteem
  • Feeling guilty, shameful and inadequate
  • Suicidal thoughts or behaviors
  • Inability to find or experience pleasure
  • Loss of interest in activities
  • Feeling isolated from others
  • Extreme mood swings
  • Hypersensitivity
  • Fatigue, sluggishness, and exhaustion

How to Treat the Affective Components of Addiction

Most people think of addiction treatment as a physical process, but do not consider the psychological treatment that goes into the overall process. Treating the affective components of addiction is essential for an individual to find and achieve recovery. If left untreated, the affective components of addiction will remain and cause an individual to relapse. This occurrence is very likely. To treat these issues, recovery professionals will use a variety of treatment techniques including:

  • Psychotherapy
  • Behavioral therapy
  • Alternative therapies
  • Life skills training
  • Medication
  • Family counseling
  • Support groups

and much more.

Seeking Treatment for Mood Disorders and Addiction?

If you are seeking treatment and recovery services for mood disorders and/or addiction, please call our toll-free helpline now to speak with a recovery professional that can assist you with all of your questions, concerns and needs. Recovery professionals are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Whatever you are struggling with, we can help you find treatment. Call now to learn how.