Feb. 28, 2023 – When you perform a behavior repeatedly over a long period of time – many years – the underlying neurological basis of the behavior becomes entrenched in the brain’s infrastructure. The specific neural pathways become well-engrained and hardened, making the behavior automatic. Think of the neural pathway as a piece of rope that gets thicker and stronger with each repetition. This is how any habit is developed, whether it’s a world-class athlete honing her skills or an opiate addict downing his pills. The more repetition, the stronger the neural pathways and the more automatic the skills.

Now, because world-class athleticism is rewarded and valued, we don’t think of it as an “addiction,” but it is just that from the perspective of the underlying neural infrastructure. It’s a very well-developed habit that works beyond consciousness.