hello, i have a few questions about addiction in general. Does an addiction occur due to having the brain build some kind of dependency towards something? Also, does the brain respond in the same manner when one tries to satisfy an addiction or would the brain response differ based on the kind of addiction?

Hi Rayan - I believe all addictions exist because parts of the brain try automatically to mute or distract from significant "inner (emotional) pain" - i.e. excessive shame + guilt + hurt + fears + sadness + confusion + despair. This pain usually comes from early-childhood abandonment, neglect, and abuse. The host person is usually unaware of the pain, and becomes dependent on the addiction to (temporarily) mute it. The brain can respond in several; different ways to the pain - dependence on substances (like drugs, including food), and/or compulsive activities (like workaholism, shopping, or cleaning), relationships (codependence), and/or moods (like rage or sexual arousal).
For more info, see:
For ways to understand "inner pain" and how to reduce it, see this:

If you have further questions, please ask! - Pete  


All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Peter Gerlach, MSW


I can answer questions about mood disorders, depression, suicide, relationships, communication skills, problem solving, clear thinking, bonding disorders, trauma recovery, addiction management, grieving, shame, guilt, fear, reality distortion, and trust disorders; courtship, family functioning, "problem kids," mediation, (re)marriage, divorce, stepfamilies, stepparenting, boundaries, self-neglect, abuse, parental neglect, personality subselves, ("parts work"). I cannot answer legal or medical questions.


I maintained a private therapy practice near Chicago for 27 years, and have worked with over 1,000 men, women, couples, and families on a wide range of personal and family problems. I have been in personal recovery from growing up in an alcoholic family since 1986, and have worked with five therapists to heal my own psychological wounds. I maintained a "warm (phone) line" for callers on the topics above for 20 years, and have taught over 200 seminars and classes in midwestern universities, churches, support groups, and schools since 1981. I have practiced internal-family therapy ("parts work") with trauma-recoverers since 1991.

National Stepfamily Resource Center (NSRC) Experts Council; Compassion and Choices, and Final Exit Network

# Several hundred articles in my non-profit "Break the Cycle!" Web site at These articles are augmented by over 150 educational YouTube videos .

# six books on childhood-trauma recovery, effective communication, and stepfamily courtship, coparenting, and management.

A bachelors degree in mechanical engineering (BSME, 1959) from Stanford University, a Masters degree in clinical Social Work, (MSW, 1981), and over 500 hours of post-grad training in the topics above - including clinical hypnosis, spirituality, codependence, addicrtion-management, and guided imagery. My post-grad traning includes two 9-month internships on doing internal-family therapy at the University of Illinois.

Awards and Honors
Hundreds of grateful emails and comments from students and clients all over the world.

Past/Present Clients
Over 1,000 average Midwestern-US women, men, couples, and families. A physical disability limits me to doing telephone and Skype counseling now.

©2017 All rights reserved.

[an error occurred while processing this directive]