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CLINICAL BREAKDOWN: Edging

Uncategorized Aug 12, 2021

Thanks to many modern scientists, most people today know about dopamine and dopamine cycles. Science is exploring the myriad functions of dopamine in the brain, but the one thing we can be sure of is that our brain loves dopamine. When you are recovering, this is good to be aware of. Many recovering addicts, in their brain's voracious appetite for dopamine, fall into the trap of edging.

The best way to explain edging is using a numerical system. Imagine that watching pornography is a level 5 dopamine hit and let's say most activities in the day, your brain operates at a level 2. Your brain rarely goes from 2 to 5. Instead, it edges. It will seek something that is a level 3. Maybe it's a social media feed or a few videos online. Nothing that is actually inappropriate, but simply a bit more stimulating than the mundane tasks of work/life. After a while that level 3 starts to get old, so then your brain looks for a level 4. Eventually, you end up at a level 5 – engaging in pornography or something else that you promised you wouldn't.

Understanding edging is extremely powerful because you can learn to regulate your brain's activity in the early stages before you reach a level 5. If you can catch yourself drifting towards a level 3 or 4, then you can do something practical that will break you out of the pattern. It might be a change of scenery, shutting down your devices, calling up a spotter (more on that in next week's newsletter), breathing exercises, etc. If it takes off the edge (pun intended), then you successfully prevented a slip. Well done!

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