Addictions are created when a desired feeling and behaviour become fixated together. For example, if the feeling of being a winner has become fixated with the behavior of gambling, the person gambles in order to feel like a winner. Even when he loses, the fixation between the feeling of winning and the behavior of gambling will persist. Bad outcomes such as losing a lot of money will not alter this fixation as it defies all rational learning.

An addiction can be created from a single event. For example, one person’s gambling compulsion began after he won a large amount of money playing poker. From that point on, the feeling of being a winner was fixated with the behavior of playing high stakes poker. The fixation was so powerful that even when he later lost more money than he won, the feeling of being a winner continued to be linked with the behavior of high stakes poker. The result was a gambling compulsion that eventually cost him his house, his wife, his life savings, and his job.

Another person’s gambling problem began after he played poker with his father and his poker buddies. for the first time in his life, he felt connected with his father. For this person, the behavior of gambling was fixated with the feeling of connection with his father.

This means that any behavior can become fixated with any desired feeling. Gambling might become fixated with the feelings of winning, connection, status, power, or any other feeling that a person might want intensely.

The reverse is also true: A feeling can be linked with many different behaviors. For example, the feeling of winning might become linked with the behaviors of gambling, shopping, shoplifting, smoking, drinking, or sex.

In diagram form:

Intense Desired Feeling + Positive Event = Addictive Fixation

An addiction can be triggered by either an internal or external event. For example, the sight of a poker table or the need to belong could be a trigger for an addictive behavior. In diagram form:

Addictive Fixation + Trigger Event = Addictive Behavior

So according to the Feeling-State Theory of Addictions, that is how addictions are created. The next question is how can you get your freedom back?

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