Addiction to substances can develop for a number of reasons. This is partly because we as people are all different from one another. Thus, we all have different predispositions to substances and motivations for doing the things that we do. Therefore, the causes of addiction are not as predictable as many people often think.
To help you understand the causes of addiction, we are listing some of the top reasons.
1. Causes of Addiction: Genetics
One of the top causes of addiction is genetics. The National Institute on Drug Abuse even reports that some scientists approximate that 40%-60% of the reason why a person develops addiction is due to genetics. This is because people’s genetic makeup often determines how susceptible they are to certain substances.
For example, people that are genetically wired to be more responsive to pleasure than average, are more likely to develop an addiction to alcohol or drugs.
People that are riskier by nature are also more likely to develop an addiction to alcohol or drugs. This is because people that are risk-takers are more prone to start using substances in the first place.
2. Family History
Family history is also a factor that causes addiction. This is because a person’s genetic makeup and upbringing play a factor in who that person becomes. When we talk about upbringing, we mean, the way that a person was raised. A person’s genetics is the natural influence of family history, while a person’s upbringing is the nurture influence of family history.
Ultimately, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Therefore, if multiple people in a family suffer from addiction, an individual is more likely going to suffer from addiction when he or she grows up.
3. Peer Pressure
Peer pressure can impact anybody of any age. It is particularly impactful when people feel that they’re the only person not doing the thing that they’re being pressured to do.
People who suffer from addiction may feel large amounts of peer pressure to drink or use substances at celebratory parties or events. Examples of these celebratory parties and events include birthday parties, holiday parties, and work parties.
It’s especially difficult for new addicts to attend parties or events where everyone is drinking or using substances. This is particularly true when all of the people that are drinking and using substances at the party or event are socializing and having fun. As a result, many people that are new to addiction recovery relapse after attending celebratory events.
A co-occurring mental disorder is a disorder in which a person simultaneously suffers from an addiction and a mental illness. Co-occurring mental disorders are one of the causes of addiction because people with mental illness lean on substances to cope. Therefore, mental illness is often the catalyst for substance abuse and addiction.
5. Early Exposure to Substances
When individuals start using substances at a young age, they’re more likely to develop an addiction. This is because the human brain during childhood or adolescence is still developing. Therefore, when a still-developing brain is rewired with substance use, it deeply ingrains the need for substance use to function into that brain.
Early exposure to substances can also cause individuals to have an abnormally high tolerance for substances. This causes people to be able to consume large amounts of substances without feeling their effects. Over time, using large amounts of substances will cause a person to become dependent on them, until they become addicted.
Early exposure to substances is also one of the causes of addiction due to the fact that it causes individuals to abuse substances for a longer period of time. The longer a person suffers from addiction, the harder it often is to become sober again.
6. Irresponsible Prescribing or Use of Medications
Irresponsible prescribing or taking of medications can also cause addiction. This is because it provides people that don’t necessarily need to expose themselves to prescription drugs the opportunity to do so.
If a person doesn’t need to take prescription drugs, the medication will not affect that person the way that it should. This is because there is not a problem in that person’s body that the medication needs to fix. As a result, the prescribed medication will alter the individual’s brain chemistry for no reason.
Prescribed medication can also cause a person to feel feelings of euphoria. Having such euphoric feelings can cause a person to continue to abuse the medication in order to feel that high again. This chronic drug abuse can then turn into an addiction.
Prescribing medications can become particularly irresponsible if a doctor prescribes medication for a person to use for a long period of time. This is because the longer a person uses a drug, the more the body will become dependent on that drug to function and not feel withdrawals. Also, taking a prescription drug for a long period of time increases the number of alterations that the drug will make to the brain’s chemistry.
This is part of the reason why the current opioid crisis has become as bad as it is. Opioids are highly addictive on their own. Therefore, it doesn’t take a long time to develop an addiction to them. As a result, the countless people that were irresponsibly prescribed to take opioids for extended periods of time became dependent on opioids and ultimately developed addictions.
7. Rewiring of Brain Chemistry Due to Initial Drug Use
Most people first use substances recreationally. Unfortunately, strong substances can rewire a person’s brain in its initial use. As a result, people can become addicted to certain drugs that they only took once.
8. Taking Highly Addictive Substances
Taking highly addictive substances, in general, can greatly increase a person’s chance of developing an addiction. This is because highly addictive substances cause more alterations to a human brain’s chemistry than non-highly addictive substances.
9. Continually Taking Substances for Mood Regulation
People continually take substances to regulate their mood when they’ve already become dependent on that substance. Thus, they need the substance to feel normal and not experience withdrawal symptoms.
Once a person makes a habit of taking substances to regulate mood, it impairs the way that the brain’s prefrontal cortex functions. The prefrontal cortex is the part of the brain that manages decision-making.
A normal functioning prefrontal cortex alerts the psyche of how harmful a particular action is. When a prefrontal cortex is impaired due to substance abuse, it doesn’t detect harmful situations. That’s why people that suffer from addiction tend to make more risky choices.
10. Taking Substances to Manage Stress or Past Trauma
One environmental risk factor that contributes to the development of addiction is going through stressful or traumatic situations. This is because when a person goes through stress, he or she is prone to want to use substances to cope.
Once a continually stressed person starts abusing substances to cope, it provides that person with an incentive to continue to abuse substances. Over time, this chronic abuse of substances will turn into an addiction. Many people that start abusing substances to cope with stress or past trauma develop a co-occurring disorder.
11. Increased Drug Tolerance
One sign of an addiction is an increase in tolerance to substances. People become more tolerant of substances when their bodies are accustomed to the effects of the substances. As a result, they need to consume a larger amount of the substance to feel its effects.
If you combine tolerance with the desire to avoid feeling withdrawal symptoms, the increased levels of substance abuse will likely lead to addiction.
12. Poor Living Conditions
Poor living conditions are one of the causes of addiction. This is because they can cause people to have little motivation to do anything other than abuse substances. The effect that poor living conditions can have on addiction rates is evident in the Rat Park study done in 1970.
In this study, researchers built a housing colony for rats. The housing colony was spacious and contained ample food and toys. The control housing colony was filled with regular lab cages.
In this study, rats were forced morphine hydrochloride on a day-to-day basis for two months. These rats were then brought to the spacious housing colony to see if their addictive behavior patterns would shift or not. Sure enough, once in the spacious housing colony, most of the rats chose to consume regular tap water over morphine-laced water.
On the other hand, most of the control group of rats that were held in regular lab cages chose to consume more morphine. Although this study wasn’t conclusive enough to determine the cause of addiction, it does demonstrate how living conditions can affect addiction rates.
Daylight Recovery Services Is Here to Serve Your Addiction Treatment Needs
At Daylight Recovery Services, we provide a wide variety of addiction treatment services. Whether you’re looking to attend residential treatment or outpatient treatment, we’ve got options for you. We also provide telehealth treatment, co-occurring disorder treatment, and holistic treatment.
As the leading drug and alcohol treatment center in Southern California, we also offer detox services to any patient that needs it. The drugs that we specialize in providing treatment for range from alcohol to prescription drugs, to all types of illegal substances.
At Daylight Recovery, we know how important addiction treatment is. That’s why we allow admissions to our center with the assistance of most PPO insurance plans, with little to no out-of-pocket expenses. To fill out an online admissions form, click here. To contact us with any inquiries that you may have about our center, click here. We are excited to hear from you and help you on your journey to addiction recovery.