Developing an Addiction

Sometimes I find myself wondering why people develop addictions to certain things and not others. There’s so much we could be addicted to, including behaviors like gambling or shopping or gaming. So why are there people who are addicted to drugs and alcohol but are unaffected by food? Why do some food addicts have difficulty with caffeine and others don’t? It’s such an interesting topic, and you can hear my thoughts in this week’s Vlog.


  1. Donald Glenn Theiss

    I’m a psychologist and I wrote a book called being human in a world of illusion in which I talk about how we have been trained to disconnect from our own experience and to focus on a set of ideas, beliefs and ways of behaving they have been passed down for thousands of years, causing us to develop patterns of thought, emotional reactions and behaviors that are fundamentally dysfunctional. It is because of this that we live in a perpetual State of discomfort, of trauma and so we seek to Comfort ourselves with anything that works to sooth our troubled state of mind, body and emotions. I believe this is the real cause of addiction. We will do anything and use anything to feel good, whether it’s food, drugs. Sex, talking, watching TV, Love, gambling, anything that takes us away from our own discomfort can become something that we do addictively. The real challenge for all of us is being able to sit with, Focus on and be aware of what is happening in US without trying to escape it.

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    1. Cecile D Edwards

      This is relatable. I agree.

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  2. Clare Terry

    What are the protein requirements for men

    I have done boot camp

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    1. Bright Line Eating

      Hi there! Men’s portions of protein on the weight loss plan are 6 ounces of most protein sources, such as meat or beans. 🧡

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  3. Em

    Oooooohhhhhh you make me want to start doing puzzles!!! 🙂

    HAHA – Yes I can definitely see how puzzles and such things can feel addicting…. Thanks for sharing your story with us – I always find what you have to say interesting and very relatable!

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  4. Mary H

    In reply to my reading books from the dollar store. It is hit and miss what I find.
    I was going to thrift store for books but I found I like new books never been read
    for just $1. some books I have read
    The Marriage Pact by Michelle Richmond newlyweds receive a gift to keep
    marriage alive sign a pact without reading…hugh no, no. trouble begins
    Poison by Galt Niederhoffer man is poisoning wife with arsenic
    police do not believe her, she trying to stay alive protect children
    Countdown to the Apocalypse why Isis and ebola are only the
    beginning by Robert Jeffress..excellent my opinion
    American Radical inside the world of undercover muslim fbi agent
    by Tamer Elnoury…excellent
    Tell me everything you don’t remember the stroke that changed
    my life by Christine Hyung-Oak Lee excellent
    I have read Anatomy of a Food Addiction Brain chemistry of
    overeating by Anne Katherine ma confirms what SPT tells us
    And Rehabilitate, Rewire, Recover by Tabitha Farrar …
    for anorexia recovery ..too thick, too much repeating
    Much better for those like me need help with anorexia
    web site Beauty Beyond Bones. I hope this helps.
    Mary H

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  5. Laura H

    I was wondering during traumatic events if the adrenaline in the body helps lock in the addiction. Even though it’s supposed to be a one and done deal, with PTSD and flashbacks, I would imagine the chemical keeps getting released as the person’s mind/body could be tricked into thinking the event is still occurring. I love how you address the meta information around eating addiction. It helps to stay the course and understand the pitfalls better. Thanks Susan!

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  6. Mary H

    Excellent vlog. I am addicted to reading and the dollar store. I have 4 bags of books I have bought from the store and read every night.
    It is an escape for me…I too have pulled an all nighter reading to the end …who done it, what happened. Today when I drove to the store,
    I told myself…no more books. Low and behold, I came away with 4 more books.

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    1. Bright Line Eating

      Hi, Mary! Sounds like you should recommend some of your favorites for the rest of us. 😉

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  7. Jeanie Connell

    I’m finishing up a book (memoir of sorts) that deals with my addiction to therapy. Ten years, the last seven with the same couple. It has a rather dramatic rescue which occurred February 7, 1993. What led up to that was: Anorexia/bulimia, Dissociative amnesia, Flashbacks, Psychotherapy, Illusion and Addiction. My sister in CA and her husband have lost 50 lbs + 70 lbs through BL and I am learning many healthy habits. Our grandfather was a pedophile.
    Your Vlog was excellent. I try to listen to many of them. Thanks!!!!!

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  8. Carol

    I don’t usually comment but this struck a cord in me. I retired 5 years ago and for the first 1.5 years all I did was basically slept. I was worn out. But finally got up and volunteered for 3 years. but also got addicted to my tablet and boy did I get addicted to coloring and games. Listen to tv and color…go to bed and wake up after 2-3 hrs and couldn’t go back to sleep and colored/games for 1-3 hrs. I kept up basics of my yard, house, volunteer, but the rest of time on my butt coloring etc. Then my tablet went belly up just about when COVID hit…what a blessing. I didn’t want to spend $ for a new tablet. So I started cleaning out house to downsize. I have just now gotten a new tablet and while it takes my time, I can walk away from it now. I can feel the pull but my mind tells me now to walk away. I exercise now to Grow Young Fitness about 1\2 HR 3-5 times a week and pedal on my recumbent bike and these are blessings to me as well. I sometimes put myself in a pattern of 20 minutes chores, 20 minutes what I want to do, etc. You would be amazed how much you can get done…ha! Can’t always stick with that but I try. So…i do agree with you, Susan, many different activities can become addictive and when one realizes what impact it has on our daily lives, then we can steer ourselves to other things to break the addictive habits and hopefully not to another addictive habit….all things in moderation. I can’t stay hold on BLE…that is a struggle but I keep trying. Wish everyone healthy and happy lives.

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    1. Bright Line Eating

      Love your idea to set timers to keep you on track and to stick to your tasks, Carol. Wishing you well, friend. 🧡

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  9. Linda Morris

    I heard a speaker once in a 12 step program who talked about replacing addictions with other addictions. She gave examples of various obsessions she had experienced including rescuing sick or injured dogs, bringing them back to health, and then giving them away over and over again, and decorating her home by planning and purchasing things with a passion. She made the point that if you just stop one addiction and don’t actually get into healthy recovery, it is likely you will go on to another addiction. I stopped drinking 43 years ago but continue to struggle with food addiction. I definitely need to continue on my path to recovery.

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  10. Christine

    Sorry I was too off-topic and long-winded in my earlier comment. What I especially appreciated about Susan’s vlog was her detailed description of what happened when she knew she was being “pulled in” to a behavior in an “addictive” way and how being alone for an extended period of time had apparently exacerbated that. Also, that the “object” of the addictive behavior can differ for each person. Thanks, again.

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  11. Catherine L.

    Thank you for this excellent post.

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  12. Angela

    I can relate – my puzzles are sudokus. I spend far too much time on them. Finding the correct number seems to provide a “hit” at least if the sudoku is sufficiently challenging. To Chirstine Edwards (first post) I´d say that while for her, puzzles may be just fun and a bit of distraction, for others it can be much more besides.

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    1. Bright Line Eating

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Angela. You’re right that some behaviors can work for some people and interfere with life for others. 🧡

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  13. Christine Edwards

    Oh Please!!! Enough already!!! How about puzzles are just something to have fun & a bit of distraction… My goodness! Not your finest 15 minutes Susan!

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  14. Katherine Dashiell

    Thanks for this illuminating talk. I discovered a jigsaw app and I have been playing it on my ipads compulsively for years – it’s even caused a shoulder problem because I use my right hand and arm to place the puzzle pieces. It didn’t occur to me until your blog that I was addicted but now that you mention it I can feel a burst of dopamine when I properly place a piece and there’s a small burst of celebration in the app. I’m not sure I’ll stop – because it may be helping me to refrain from other, more harmful addictions.

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  15. Heather

    excellent as always Susan
    Thank you for the science of why
    I scribbled and kept reversing to insure I heard you correctly
    Praying I can remember your wise words as I leave this room

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  16. Sarah Katzin

    Hello! Of COURSE there is such a thing as puzzle addiction!
    I even belong to a FB group called Jigsaw Junkies!
    (Although the purpose of the group is not to battle the addiction.)
    I love puzzles and can get totally wrapped up in them, and push off going to bed.
    But they are not making my life unmanageable…..yet!

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  17. Rachel Oddy

    Wow! Related to this so much! I defo started to develop an addiction to puzzles, alone in lockdown trying to complete my Masters thesis!! Even pulled an all-nighter myself. Thank you Susan for yet again making the science so accessible and helping us to understand it. It will only foster greater empathy for and acceptance of anyone going through an addiction. X

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  18. Sandra Mason

    interesting the jigsaw puzzel was my therapy after I was sexually abused by my best friends husband and my pastor told me it was my fault. love doing puzzles but don’t need them for therapy any more. But it did help me not focus on the extreme pain and and guilt that was not mine to feel. I try to use my non dominate hand while doing them ,

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    1. Bright Line Eating

      Sending so much love to you, dear Sandra. 🧡🧡🧡 May you find peace.

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  19. Christine

    Susan, thank you as always for your honesty and insight. As I listened, I just kept saying, “Yes, Susan, you’re describing me in my addiction to Korean dramas!” I have an ongoing food addiction (somewhat under control), which is how I found you. However, on learning that my son had an addiction to meth, my interest in Korean dramas grew into a full-blown addiction, truly an escape from the reality of everything I had difficulty handling in my own life. I am an American expat living in Japan for 50 years, alone now for 9 years after separating from my Japanese husband. It’s a long, often painful story. With the pandemic, loneliness has just accentuated the situation, though my son is now a recovered addict and working as full-time, live-in staff at an addiction rehab center nearby. I have been taking a 30-session program on the 12-step program offered by his center, taught by the people who helped my son in his now almost 4-yr recovery! I have also recently discovered the work of Dr. Gabor Mate and am greatly interested, Susan, in what you think of his theory of/approach to addiction? Maybe the stuff of a future vlog? Thank you, again!!!

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  20. KC

    Susan – You are the first fellow jigsaw puzzle addict-in-training I’ve heard of!! Newly single with a brand new baby, watching TV alone every night started feeling a little pathetic. In my search for alternatives, I remembered my childhood best friend’s family always had a puzzle going on a card table in their rec room. We’d stop by, add a few pieces or complete a small section. It seemed nice. So I bought a 2000-piece puzzle, started it that evening, and other than caring for my baby, worked on it for 36 hours straight pulling TWO all-nighters in a row. Placing the last piece gave me absolutely no sense of accomplishment. I stared at the banal landscape for less than a minute, my only thought being, hmm – jigsaw puzzles bring out the insanity in me. I methodically put all the pieces back in the box and delivered it to Goodwill that day. That was 20 years ago. I haven’t done a puzzle since! This story is always good for laughs, but this vlog makes sense of the addiction. The circumstances were rooted in abandonment, loneliness, and a gaping hole in my soul waiting to be filled. Thank you for all you do!

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  21. steven

    Thank You!

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  22. Kathy Henrie

    I’m addicted to puzzles while I do them. So I limit them to one per week. I’ve found that when I’m doing a puzzle I don’t think as much about eating and will miss my meals. Addiction substitution I guess. Interesting.

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  23. Nancy W. Goss

    Can you at some point explain the effect of the gut biome on the brain?

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  24. Leah Hamilton

    This describes my behavior with the Harry Potter series, LOL. The anticipation of a new book, the speculation of the plot turns, the being in line at midnight to get the new book…I have no regrets, because it wasn’t harmful to my daily living. However, I think books and puzzles is relatable to enough people, that they might be able to have a glimpse into the experience of someone in the throes of addiction.

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  25. Peg Oetjen

    Excellent, Susan! Oddly, I just found a puzzle in a box I’d put away – thought it might be a good lockdown diversion but after hearing you am almost afraid to open it as I can’t afford any more all-nighters. =) I’m an ACOA – never had a problem with alcohol but ALMOST bought a small bottle of Jack Daniels. Whew! This has been a tough time, not without its graces. Working to get back on track…thanks for your insight, as always.

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  26. Donald Glenn theiss

    I’m good piece I liked it and I would add that addiction is always about what works for us to avoid the experience were having of discomfort whether it is anxiety fear anger sadness even love or being turned on sexually if are uncomfortable with those feelings. The real answer to addiction in my opinion is to be willing to feel whatever you’re feeling, including all the sensations any motions and thoughts passing through the consciousness

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  27. Susan Ferrin

    Spot on for me. Through out this covid year I have found myself getting through it all by reading, watching movies and doing puzzles…to the point of excluding other things in my day. “Masking reality” you said. Yup. It’s time for me to address this issue in my life. I don’t like the person I seem to becoming. Thanks for putting it out there for me to recognize.

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    1. Bright Line Eating

      Thinking of you during this difficult time, Susan. What a wild ride it has been!

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