Originally Posted by freelancemomma
In this respect we agree entirely. In the end we're just arguing semantics. What you call addiction, I call a conscious or subconscious cost-benefit analysis.
I think it's far more than semantics. I believe that the very real phenomenon of addiction (a multi-faceted matter of genetic, physiological, social, emotional, cultural, educational, and psychological factors). The combined effects that comprise addiction interfere with the ability of an individual to execute cost-benefit analysis successfully without herculean effort and/or assistance - the rewards of abuse are magnified and the pain of negative consequences numbed.
There's rather compelling evidence that in eating disorders, substance abuse, hoarding, shopping addiction, compulsive gambling... the affected individuals get et a bigger payoff for use than "normals." The benefits not only ouweigh the costs numerically, the positive reward experiences are perceived as being more intence (often measureably so)
It isn't entirely a decision making problem. The rewards are simply inherently bigger, more intense, and more numerable, so the cost-benefit analysis is inherently swayed.
One of the most difficult things for me (and my non-food addicted family) to understand was that food is a stronger reward for me than for "normal" folk.
I do not understand the appeal of alcohol or drugs, even recreationally. I get absolutely nothing from them (except sleepiness). The physiological effects aren't pleasant to me at all, not in the least. Gambling isn't really fun for me, either. Don't get it. I'm not thrill seeker ot adrenaline junkie, either.
Food however, has been a passionate interest, extraordinarily pleasureable (almost orgasmic) experience for me, for as long as I can remember.
I didn't choose to enjoy food more than the average bear, nor did I choose to get less pleasure out of things other people seem to enjoy a lot more than I do.
I will never drink to excess, because there's no point to it. Some foods provide such an incredible high for me, that it becomes nearly impossible to see the long-term costs. The only way for me to see the costs (in order to be able to weigh costs and benefits rationally) is to avoid the high that impairs my judgement.
Not everyone experiences such judgement impairment, and they are not addicts.
No one would dream of suggesting moderate use of heroine, because we know the intense euphoria will impair rational judgement.
What we don't seem to understand or fully grasp is that the effects (objectively and subjectively) of drugs, alcohol, sex, gambling, shopping, foods.... are not universal, they are quantitatively and qualitatively different.
I get no thrill whatsoever from alcohol, not even a pleasant buzz. There is no question of moderation, because there is absolutely no reason for me to drink. While the experience of intensely rich foods rival and sometimes surpass that of sex and even orgasm.
How many people can say that food is better than good sex?
"Better than sex" often seems to be the benchmark of addiction, and I believe that is the component of addiction that is outside of a persons control.
I can control what I eat, but I cannot control how much I enjoy certain foods. And for some foods, the enjoyment is so unbelievably intense that it blots out all the negative consequences.
When I'm using sugar, especially in combination with fat and salt, the benefits FAR outweigh the costs, because the high really is that incredibly awesome. Death itself doesn't seem like too high a price.
The only time the risks outweigh the benefits is when I am no longer under the influence.
I believe THAT is what makes addiction - the factors that magnify the benefits to the point that the risks cannot compete, no matter how dire those risks are.
I think it's the abnormally magnified reward response that is the hallmark (if not the very nature) of addiction.