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When a person engages in a specific behaviour, their brain may respond to the stimulus represented by that behaviour by judging it to be "rewarding": their brain's reward system will create the urge to repeat that behaviour – either because it is intrinsically pleasurable or because it is extrinsically rewarding – by producing chemicals like dopamine, which drive motivational salience.
The more a person engages in a rewarding behaviour, the more conditioned they become to want to repeat it in order to achieve and maintain the positive feelings created by dopamine and other chemicals – and to avoid the negative feelings caused by a lower level of dopamine in the absence of the behaviour in question. As the affected individual's reward system becomes unbalanced and they are forced to repeat the addictive behaviour until and until they can accomplish a neurochemical rebalance, what may begin as something just habitual (behaviorally routine) can change into an addiction.
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter produced spontaneously by the brain when a person completes a pleasurable and rewarding task. This is an evolutionary survival mechanism; eating and drinking helps you feel good while also ensuring your survival and the survival of the species as a whole. Dopamine production is one of the driving forces behind sex, which is both pleasurable and necessary for existence.
The production of dopamine has the effect of generating a memory of the experience, which pushes us to seek it out again. When confronted with our favourite dish, we recall earlier encounters with it (all of which have been favourable and reassuring), and the cycle repeats. The same is true when it comes to abusing things like drugs and alcohol.
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