Understanding how addiction works can be challenging. Sometimes it seems as though addiction has no rhyme or reason. However, there are actually causes of addiction that can give a glimpse into the various factors that lead to this challenging disease.
But when it comes to the causes of addiction, how do we know who is at risk for developing a substance use disorder—and, most importantly, how do we prevent it from happening? Well, it begins with an understanding of the causes of addiction, including some you might be familiar with, but also causes of substance abuse that often go overlooked.
How Addiction Works
Before we can get into the causes of addiction, we need to examine how addiction works. First, addiction can be defined as a physical, mental, and emotional dependence on drugs and/or alcohol. Common characteristics of addiction include:
- Being unable to control how much you drink or use
- Experiencing constant alcohol or drug cravings
- Going through withdrawal symptoms when not using
- Lying to yourself and others about the severity of addiction
When you are in the midst of addiction, you often cannot see just how detrimental these substances can be. In reality, the effects of alcohol and drug addiction can be life-threatening. In fact, the number of accidental drug overdoses in Nevada alone increased by 50 percent this past year. Additionally, the rates of addiction have recently skyrocketed. These statistics show just how urgent it is for you to receive treatment for the underlying causes of addiction before the consequences catch up to you.
What Are the Causes of Substance Abuse?
Going through the struggles of addiction is something that can happen to anyone. However, these five causes of addiction can increase your chances of developing a substance use disorder. If these risks look familiar, you might be in need of professional treatment to recover from addiction.
1. Biological Risk
To start, addiction is something that can be passed down through generations. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, a person’s genes, or the DNA throughout their body, can greatly increase someone’s chances of becoming addicted to drugs or alcohol. This means that if alcoholism or drug addiction run in your family, you might also have a predisposition to becoming addicted. While there is no known way to eliminate this increased risk, knowing about it can help you make safer choices regarding drugs and alcohol.
2. Social Pressures
Biology is a big factor in deciding who is at risk for developing addiction. However, it’s important to remember that your genes are only one part of the equation. Social pressures and the environment you inhabit also have a huge role in leading you down the path of addiction.
Societally, there is a perception that being social means going to parties, doing drugs, and drinking to have a “good time.” Grocery stores have rows of alcoholic beverages accessible to purchase, and with online shopping, obtaining drug paraphernalia is just a click away. You can even find different ways to take drugs just by putting together some common household items.
This normalization of alcohol and drug use can make it seem as though using these substances is normal or something that is not dangerous. But this is far from the truth. The societal pressure to blend in is one of the major causes of addiction that often goes overlooked.
This is why it is so important to surround yourself with people who do not expect you to participate in drinking or drug use. If you know that you have a substance use disorder, then surrounding yourself with people who also live sober could help alleviate a lot of the pressure you may feel to drink or use.
Similar to the societal pressures of using drugs and alcohol, stress is a significant driving force toward addiction. As stated above, people often believe drinking after a long day or using drugs to unwind can be a “cure” for stress. The truth of the matter is that turning to drugs or alcohol in times of stress is a red flag.
For people who aren’t sure how to cope with the discomfort of stress, anxiety, depression, or other mental health concerns, using drugs or alcohol often seems like the answer. While these substances might make you forget about the uncomfortable emotions temporarily, those feelings will always return once you are sober again. This leads to people drinking or using more in order to seek that temporary relief.
In treatment, you will learn that there are more effective, healthier coping mechanisms that you can rely on when you are feeling overwhelmed. Through treatment options such as counseling, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), and group sessions, you will have access to a toolbox of resources that will actually work to heal the core of your worries so that you no longer have to rely on drugs or alcohol to feel like yourself again.
As with stress, using drugs or alcohol to deal with untreated trauma is a common cause of addiction. This can include childhood trauma as well as going through traumatic experiences into adulthood. Moreover, there are certain populations of people who are at a higher risk for developing trauma disorders, like PTSD, and addiction. For example, studies show that veterans are more likely to have PTSD and substance use disorders than the general public.
For this reason, patients who have gone through trauma should have trauma-informed care that works to ease the pain of those memories while they are completely sober. There are also veteran-specific treatment programs that take into consideration all of the possible trauma that service members frequently go through.
5. Chronic Pain
The desire for relief from pain, whether emotional or physical, is one of the trickier causes of addiction. For people who struggle with chronic pain, turning to prescription medications and opioids is often the only solution they see.
The shocking reality is that the opioid epidemic makes it easier for people to have access to these highly addictive substances. One pain pill often leads to another and, soon after, individuals might feel as though they have to choose between pain and addiction.
However, these don’t have to be the only two options for people with chronic pain. Instead, treatment should focus on approaching pain management through a variety of alternate solutions so that patients can live a functional life without the dependency on dangerous drugs.
Drug and Alcohol Addiction Treatment
Through all of these causes of addiction one thing becomes abundantly clear: treatment is the only way to stop the cycle of substance abuse once and for all. At the Vance Johnson Recovery Center, your treatment plan will be specific to your experiences and recovery goals. Starting with safe, comfortable detox and ending with relapse prevention strategies to help you maintain sobriety, your journey through treatment will allow you the opportunity to finally heal from the many effects of addiction.
For more information on your risks of developing addiction as well as your options on how to treat it, call our experts at 888-828-2623. You can also fill out our confidential contact form with your questions. Substance abuse might start with the causes of addiction but it ends with the right type of treatment and support needed to get you to a place of peace once again.
Located in dynamic Las Vegas, Nevada, the Vance Johnson Recovery Center (VJRC) a 44-bed facility is run by a skilled multi-disciplinary team of medical and behavioral health professionals that includes nurses, counselors, and doctors, along with complementary and alternative medicine specialists to provide our clients with a transformational experience that encompasses mind, body, and spirit. Our approach is holistic and grounded in research and evidenced-based best practices that help people develop the awareness and skills required to achieve and sustain recovery.