Prof. Nevzat Tarhan: "Substances are used as a stress reducing method..."


President of Üsküdar University Psychiatrist Prof. Nevzat Tarhan participated in the "Addiction" interview within the scope of the "Change with Informatics Project" organized by the İstanbul Anatolian Probation Directorate affiliated to the İstanbul Anatolian Chief Public Prosecutor's Office. In the interview attended by those who are on probation, Tarhan stated that addiction is a brain disease and pointed out that it impairs the quality of life of the person. Emphasizing that the person will not feel the need for substances when a person finds a space where they can make themselves happy, Tarhan emphasized that the sense of internal control is very important in addiction. Stating that the biggest reason for substance use in recent years is the search for pleasure and excitement in young generations, Tarhan said that people can also prefer substances as a stress reducing method.

A large number of probation officers on the Anatolian side of İstanbul participated in the interview held at the İstanbul Anatolian Probation Directorate Information Exchange Training and Conference Hall. The interview was also attended by the administrative staff of the directorate, especially İstanbul Anatolian Public Prosecutor İdris Aksoy, İstanbul Anatolian Probation Director Seviyya Sancı. The moderator of the conversation was psychologist Nurdan Eyüpreisoğlu, who is a staff member of the directorate.

"Saying I quit whenever I want does not mean that one does not have an addiction”

Pointing out that addiction impairs a person's quality of life, Psychiatrist Prof. Nevzat Tarhan stated that "Addiction is a brain disease. One person had an excessive mental preoccupation with this substance. One is always the first in their life. Then there are unsuccessful attempts to quit. Whoever wants to quit the substance and cannot quit fails. It is dangerous to use. Dangerous driving, driving while drinking alcohol. It has harmful use. For example, a person had a stomach bleed, they should not actually be drinking; however, they are still drinking. It also impairs the person's everyday life activity and quality of life. The fact that the person has a loss of control is enough to make a diagnosis of addiction. It is often said, 'I quit whenever I want, I am not addicted.' The fact that one quits when they want to does not mean that there is no addiction."

The reason why it has been used the most in recent years is the search for pleasure and excitement...

Pointing out that children's social media use should be under parental supervision, Prof. Nevzat Tarhan expressed that "Usually, starting substance use begins with a sense of pleasure and excitement-seeking in the new generations. People use it as a stress reducing method. These statistics were confirmed by Türkiye. It is also used under the influence of social media. Statistics on the increase in use in this way appear especially in early adolescence because the feelings of the child at the beginning of adolescence are more important than their mind in their mental world at that age. They cannot apply 'Stop, think, act’ method. They easily believe their feelings, and they are easily influenced. In addition to the effect of social media on informing the society here, it also has a toxic effect. Especially if children use social media without parental supervision, it raises very serious questions about it. They are motivated by a sense of curiosity, emulation and encouragement.”

"The brain does not get enough of the reward, so it says more"

Stating that the reward system is impaired in the brain of addicted people, Prof. Tarhan said that "It is not just substance abuse. There are also behavioral addictions such as gambling addiction. Especially after the pandemic, addictions such as other technology and digital addictions such as game addiction have emerged. The reward system in the brain is disrupted. We get brain mapping of addicted people. This can now be done easily with new technologies. Normally, the paths of the reward system in the brain are like pathways, and the paths of the reward system in the brain of addicted people are like highways. Since it is like a highway, the brain is no longer satisfied with a simple reward, it wants more. That's why addiction is called reward failure syndrome in the psychiatric literature. The brain does not get enough of the reward, it says more, and after that, the liver deteriorates. The liver deteriorates in addicts who neglect themselves and do not pay attention to nutrition. Damage to the brain occurs during long use. Addictive substances already affect the brain and create addiction. Addictive substances are poisonous to the body, neurotoxic. It poisons the body, disrupts the mechanism there. When it takes it continuously, after a while, the brain accepts it as a need, wants it, seeks it. We bribe our brains, and when a person gets used to bribery, they ask for it from everyone, like that..."

"In the background of substance users, there are people who feel lonely the most"

Emphasizing that people who feel lonely tend to use substances, Prof. Tarhan stated that "In the background of substance users, there are people who feel lonely the most. This person who feels lonely has stopped using substances, for example, sitting in the park, is depressed about something. When one is depressed, the level of serotonin in the brain decreases; therefore, they are in a depressive mood. Their need is increasing, and consumption in the brain is increasing. When consumption increases, the level in the brain decreases. When one is feeling down, the emotions they suppress come out and they immediately want to look for substances. At that moment, if that person is on the phone, if there is someone in the family who knows parents or therapists, mentors, they immediately call that person and relieve their loneliness, and find solutions a few times. That's when one stops using substances. They do not feel the need to use substances, or rather, that prevents them at that moment."

"A sense of internal control is very important in addiction..."

Stating that when a person finds a space where they can make themselves happy, they will not feel the need for substances, Prof. Tarhan expressed that "A sense of internal control is very important in addiction. In the frontal region of the brain is the wheelhouse. In these people, internal control is impaired. External control is required because internal control is broken. If external control therapists or family support is good, they support in some way and the person can stop using substances completely. Also, some people can find areas where they will be happy without feeling the need for substances. As such, one quits the substance, and this time they experience the pleasure of a success that comes from quitting. In other words, if a person finds a space where they can be happy, they may not feel the need to use substances easily."

"The real success is the ability to say no to one's desires"

Stating that small successes increase dopamine in the brain, Tarhan said that "When an addicted person has a crisis, it is very difficult to deal with it, but it is great to be able to do it. In other words, the real success is the ability to say no to one's desires. When the desire occurs, one realizes why it is necessary to let go, the taste of letting go, not harming oneself, the taste of success. Small successes all increase dopamine in the brain. In other words, instead of increasing dopamine with a fake dopamine-boosting substance from the outside, we increase the internal dopamine in our brain. You will make an effort, you will get tired, you will activate that hidden treasure in our brains. One becomes the most peaceful person, the happiest person. In other words, there are people who can say no when you put the world in front of them because they think about their future gain."

"The real happiness is the happiness that depends on the inner cause..."

Stating that happiness due to internal reasons is real happiness rather than happiness due to external causes, Tarhan said that "Man wants happiness due to external cause. One thinks that I should be happy with this, that I should be happy. However, the real happiness is to be happy due to the inner reason, to be able to be happy with the little things you have, to be happy with ordinary things, to start changing the world from yourself, to be able to correct yourself... When a person does this, they are already at peace with themselves. It is even called authentic happiness. For example, there is no equivalent of the word ‘huzur’ in English. Looking at the dictionary, it comes out as 'peace'. However, the word peace does not work. We have the word peace, in the sense of inner peace, but we have lost it with the new generations. However, it means that people are at peace with themselves. In other words, this authentic happiness can be happy even if the person is in prison, and one can achieve the same happiness even on the beach."

"People are happy when they make others happy"

Stating that a person who can overcome themselves can be happy, Prof. Nevzat Tarhan said that "In positive psychology, there is a PERMA model. The first of the PERMA model is to capture a positive emotional state. In other words, to have a positive emotional state in every environment, to be able to find the positive side of that event, even if it is negative at first. The second is to capture a sense of flow. If you cannot understand how two or three hours pass when you get caught up in a job, if you are busy, you can find happiness again. Third, have good human relations. Good social relations protect people from addiction. Relationships are also very important to him. The other is the state of meaning. People will make an effort, they will get tired. What kind of person do you become when you reach the end of your life? Now, only the person who works for themselves in life is enough as evil. A person who has reached a certain point also owes a debt to their society. They owe a debt to humanity, to the universe, to the creator. A person who is able to transcend themselves is happy. People are happy when they make others happy."

"The difficulties we have experienced in the past are a treasure of experience"

Stating that people who pursue a goal will not turn to substance use, Tarhan said that "The troubles, sorrows and traumas we have experienced in the past are a treasure of experiences for us. The past is capital, the present is a gift, and the future is an investment. Therefore, you should have the same capital as you would run a company, the same as you would run a financial institution. You will manage your capital today as you would manage a future investment. First, you will determine the purpose. The Arabic origin of the word economics comes from the root purpose. If you are going to do an economy, if you are going to manage an economy, you will first determine your purpose. A person with purpose does not turn to substance easily. A person who has a purpose gets pleasure when they run for that purpose."

After the interview, Tarhan was presented with a plaque by İstanbul Anatolian Public Prosecutor İdris Aksoy.


Üsküdar News Agency (ÜNA)