Addiction is driven by the interplay of dopamine, pleasure, and pain in our brain. Dopamine is associated with motivation and drive, not reward. When we pursue something pleasurable, dopamine is released, making us feel good. However, this is balanced by a bit of pain, experienced as a craving for more of the pleasurable thing.
The problem arises when we're in constant pursuit of pleasure. Each subsequent pursuit results in less dopamine release, meaning less pleasure, and an increased craving. After a certain threshold, this becomes addiction. To reset this balance, we need to enter states where we're not pursuing pleasure, such as boredom or mild anxiety. This helps us return to a healthy pursuit of pleasure without tipping towards addiction.
So, we should be cautious of pursuits that lead to large increases in dopamine and avoid repeating them over time.