I have really grown away from the term “addiction” and am seeing more and more that things like gambling, cutting, eating disorders, drug use, and spending, are really behaviors we repeat because they result in the perception that our needs for love, acceptance, power, and control are being met. This, of course, sounds way over-simplified, and yet, when I read the article attached here, along with others that are appearing with greater frequency in the literature, I am more and more persuaded that addictions are attachments.
This article, while presenting rage as an addiction, pretty much sums up the process of how humans attach themselves to a pattern of behavior based upon the reward that awaits in the form of dopamine, adrenaline, and other endorphins that cut loose at the peak of the process. When I was working with teenagers in residential treatment, I noticed that some of the kids would enter a cycle of agitation and that they would provoke situations that would add to their increasing levels of frustration and anger. The pattern would persist to an alarming degree when a seemingly insignificant trigger would launch them into a near-dissociative state. Walls would get punched, chairs thrown, physical assault, and, ultimately, physical restraint imposed by 2 or more staff members. The release was visible if not palpable. In debriefing these kids, invariably, the ultimate, peak moment and reward of the behavior was when they were restrained. The rush was described as a hit of really damn good coke, meth, or whatever. Do read on.
I approach treatment of anger and rage with EMDR, specifically the Feeling State Addiction Protocol. This approach takes the moral and judgmental aspect from the condition and clients tell me they are much more motivated to diffuse the connection between their behavior and the reward.