Sunday, May 26, 2024

What Causes Substance Abuse Addiction

Believing Addictive Substances Arent Bad

What causes opioid addiction, and why is it so tough to combat? – Mike Davis

People coming from communities, families, or peer groups in which drug or alcohol use is common are more likely to develop a substance dependency later on. This is especially true of teenagers and younger individuals who were never exposed to the idea that drug and alcohol use was a bad thing and were unaware of the inherent risks and side effects before developing substance dependency.

Next Step: Getting Help For Drug Abuse Or Addiction

Addiction is a complex problem that affects every aspect of your life. Overcoming addiction requires reaching out for support and making changes to the way you live, deal with problems, and relate to others. Recovery is within your reach but don’t try to go it alone it’s very easy to get discouraged and rationalize just one more.

Whether you choose to go to rehab, rely on self-help programs, get therapy, or take a self-directed treatment approach, support is essential. Read: Overcoming Drug Addiction.

How Can I Prevent Substance Use Disorder

Preventing substance use and SUD starts with education. Education in schools, communities and families helps prevent using a substance or misusing a prescription medication for the first time. Other ways to prevent SUD include:

  • Following instructions for prescription medications. Dont ever take more than instructed. Opioid use disorder, for instance, can start after just five days of misuse.
  • Never sharing your prescription medication with someone else or selling your medication. Always store it in a safe place away from children.
  • If you have leftover prescription medications at the end of your treatment, find a community drug take-back program or pharmacy mail-back program to safely dispose of them.

The risk of substance use increases greatly during times of stress and change. For an adult, a divorce, loss of a job or death of a loved one may increase the risk of substance use. For a teenager, moving, family divorce or changing schools can increase their risk.

Its important to turn to healthy coping mechanisms during these times of change, such as exercising, meditating or learning a new hobby. Consider seeing a mental health professional if youre having issues managing your stress.

Read Also: How To Combat Food Addiction

Common Causes Of Addiction

The causes of drug addiction can be varied and individualized. The depth of addiction can be affected by factors like when, where, or why you started taking a substance. Here are some causes of drug addiction:

  • An attempt to process traumatic events
  • Hereditary links such as a family history of addiction
  • High-stress job or lifestyle
  • A one-time serious injury led to more serious addiction
  • Gateway drugs have led to more serious drug use
  • Prolonged environmental exposure to drugs

If you began using a substance due to any of the reasons above, you are not alone. These crucial factors lead to drug use for millions of individuals. It is important to remember that anyone can find themselves in the addiction cycle. It can be a fast process or a slow one depending on the type of substance taken and the individual resilience of the person using the substance. You do not have to fight addiction alone. Clearhaven Recovery is here to help.

Get Help With Gateway Foundation

Infographics show the damage substance abuse can do to the brain

What causes addictive behavior varies from person to person. The cause can be traced back to multiple different factors, giving a complex answer to the question, What are the underlying causes of addiction? No matter what factors play a role in your addiction, or the addiction of a loved one, help is available.

At Gateway Foundation, we understand how difficult it is to battle addiction alone. We work with people to address substance misuse disorders involving alcohol, opioids, heroin, cocaine and other substances. We also work with people who are struggling with co-occurring disorders.

Our team takes an individual approach for each person who comes to us for help. Through therapy and other targeted addiction treatment approaches, we can help you understand how you developed an addiction and give you the tools to break free from that cycle and move forward with your life. Contact us to learn more about how we can help you or a loved one who is battling addiction.

Read Also: Northern Mn Addiction Wellness Center

What Makes Addiction Grow Worse

Many people metabolize drugs in different ways.

Some people, for example, do not require much alcohol to reach the point of intoxication. Others can seemingly drink vast quantities without feeling intoxicated.

This often relates to a combination of age, gender, body weight, and other factors.

As part of regularly consuming large amounts of a substance, the body may become accustomed to its effects and metabolize it more efficiently. The person may require increased amounts of the substance to achieve the same effect that smaller amounts of the substance used to create.

Medicine generally refers to this phenomenon as tolerance.

When tolerance increases alongside the need to take a substance to avoid withdrawal symptoms, it often indicates the onset of an addictive disorder. If a person does not receive treatment, it can lead to dangerous consequences.

What Causes Substance Use Disorders

Alcoholism and substance abuse disorder may be two of the least-understood diseases in the world. An unhealthy and faulty dependence on drugs and alcohol can often stem from isolation, loneliness, depression, and other mental and environmental health factors. Many non-addicts often state that a person suffering from addiction simply lacks willpower if only they could get it together or just cut back, they would be alright. This is a dangerous, antiquated way of thinking and has lead to the stigmatization of an entire demographic of people.

Imagine, would you get angry and dismiss the claims of a diabetic? Taking away their insulin and stating that diabetes is a matter of will-power would be absurd and deadly. This is what many people who suffer from AUD and SAD have to deal with. When an addict says that they really cant stop, they mean it. Their brain thinks that they need the substance to survive.


Addiction treatment has come a long way since then, as addiction is now seen as a medical disorder that requires proper medical attention. This disorder or disease of the brain impacts brain function and chemistry, which ultimately modifies an addicted persons personality, thoughts, and behaviors. While drug addiction may start off as voluntary use, many people lose control of their use somewhere down the line. It ceases to be a matter of will-power and becomes a mental, physical, and spiritual issue.

Recommended Reading: Is An Addict Always An Addict

Neurotransmitters And Drug Addiction

Neurons communicate with each other by sending messages along axons and dendrites via electrical impulses. The axons turn these impulses into chemical signals, sending neurotransmitters across synapses. The receiving dendrite then converts neurotransmitters back into the right electrical signals, so we understand the message for example, that bite of pie was delicious, Ill take another one. These exchanges happen countless times in the brain, and they control mood, behavior, movement, and cognition.

Drugs are built to interfere with those messages, causing the release of too many neurotransmitters for the wrong behaviortaking drugs. This causes a huge spike in pleasure for a destructive activity that eclipses normally pleasant activities needed for survival. Drug use also prevents normal reuptake of these brain chemicals, throwing off the entire process and your natural balance, altering your mood. Soon, all that matters is to produce that flood of neurotransmitters againand due to the addiction, theres just one way to do that: drug use.

Top 5 Causes Of Teen Drug Use

What Causes Opioid Addiction & Why Is It So Intense? | MedCircle
  • Top 5 Causes of Teen
  • Its no secret that drug use problems in the United States are on the rise. But one of the biggest problems facing the country today is the level of teen drug use. When teens get hooked on drugs, their grades and relationships suffer. They might not be able to hold a job, and that can lead to other illegal behaviors, homelessness, and more. If you see that your teen is struggling or you think they might be using drugs, its time to find out the facts and get them the help if they need it. The sooner a teen gets help, the easier it will be for them to break free from addiction issues and live a life thats clean and sober. That can give them a chance at a better future, too.

    If youre looking for help and support for teen drug abuse, TX has a lot of options for drug addiction treatment programs. That can give you the opportunity to help your teen in all possible ways and make sure theyre getting the right care. Your teen might feel lost and scared, or they might be defiant and not really want to get help. Whatever the causes of teen drug use, its your responsibility as a parent to make sure theyre getting the care thats right for their needs. Teen drug use isnt all that uncommon, but its definitely something that should be avoided. It can also turn into drug abuse and addiction very quickly, which can make a lasting toll on a teens life and health.

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    Environment And Drug Addiction

    Environment also plays an important part in developing an addiction, because environment influences behavior. The environmental factors which may contribute to drug addiction include:

  • Absence of social support
  • History of abuse or neglect
  • History of compulsive behavior
  • It isnt easy to change environmental factors such as socioeconomic status, but there are ways to mitigate against unfavorable environmental factors and work to fight drug addiction or prevent it from happening in the first place. One tactic is to delay onset of drug use entirely. Another is to nurture environmental motivators for positive behavior, such as educational attainment and job training. Vigilant friends and family can also model positive behaviors and engage with at-risk users in sober activities.

    All of these actions can help counter environmental factors that might contribute to causing drug addiction.

    What Is Drug Addiction

    Addiction is a chronic disease characterized by drug seeking and use that is compulsive, or difficult to control, despite harmful consequences. The initial decision to take drugs is voluntary for most people, but repeated drug use can lead to brain changes that challenge an addicted persons self-control and interfere with their ability to resist intense urges to take drugs. These brain changes can be persistent, which is why drug addiction is considered a “relapsing” diseasepeople in recovery from drug use disorders are at increased risk for returning to drug use even after years of not taking the drug.

    It’s common for a person to relapse, but relapse doesn’t mean that treatment doesnt work. As with other chronic health conditions, treatment should be ongoing and should be adjusted based on how the patient responds. Treatment plans need to be reviewed often and modified to fit the patients changing needs.

    Also Check: How To Know If You Are Addicted To Something

    Treating Drug Abuse And Addiction Requires Addressing The Underlying Causes

    Better Addiction Care can help you find a high quality treatment program to address the underlying causes behind your drug abuse or addiction. A holistic rehab program offers both traditional and alternative approaches to treatment that will help you:

    • Delve into the issues that led to the substance abuse.
    • Develop the skills you need to cope with stress, cravings, and other triggers.
    • Replace self-destructive thought and behavior patterns with healthier ways of thinking and behaving.
    • Learn to relax and have fun without drugs or alcohol.
    • Find purpose and meaning in a life of sobriety.

    The sooner you get help for the causes and effects of drug abuse or addiction, the sooner you can begin to put your life back together and enjoy a higher quality of life and better sense of well-being.

    What Are The Most Common Causes Of Addiction

    Infographics show the damage substance abuse can do to the brain

    There are no substances that universally or uniformly cause people to become addicted. And the vast majority of people exposed to most substances considered addictive do not in fact develop addiction to them. Rather, a very complex array of cultural factors, social factors, and situational factors mingle with psychological factors, biological factors, and even personal values to influence the possibility of addiction.

    Many different theories of addiction exist because they weight the role of contributing factors differently. Some current models of addiction emphasize the causative role of individual variations in biology or genes that make a substance or experience feel more or less pleasurable. Many models of addiction highlight the causative role of individual psychological factors, whether personality factors such as impulsiveness or sensation-seeking, or psychopathology such as the negative effects of early trauma. Other models of addiction emphasize the role that social and economic factors play in shaping behavior, such as the strength of family and peer relationships and the presence of absence of educational and employment opportunities.

    Recommended Reading: Why Are People Addicted To Drugs

    The Causes Of Drug Abuse

    There are many causes of drug abuse. The most common include a history of trauma, mental illness, and chronic stress.

    Experiencing a trauma, such as physical or sexual abuse, accidents, war, or natural disaster, can lead to long-term problems, including post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. PTSD causes nightmares, insomnia, flashbacks, anger, and fear. Many people abuse drugs or alcohol to self-medicate these negative symptoms. Childhood trauma is a very common cause of substance abuse.

    Similarly, mental illnesses like anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and eating disorders are common causes of drug abuse. Its very common for people with a mental illness to use drugs or alcohol to reduce symptoms. Unfortunately, drugs or alcohol almost always make a mental illness worse, and they can even cause the onset of a mental illness where one didnt exist before.

    Chronic stress due to poverty, financial problems, a dysfunctional relationship can lead to great dissatisfaction with life. For many, drugs and alcohol are a way to relax and reduce stress. But drugs and alcohol have been shown through research to worsen the way your body responds to stress, making your chronic stress even worse.

    Other common causes of drug abuse include family dysfunction and medical illness. The causes and effects of drug abuse can snowball, leading to heavier use and addiction.

    Why Do People Use Drugs

    For many, drug use starts with mere experimentation. This can stem from curiosity about what its like to be high or peer pressure. Others stumble upon drugs as an escape from the uncomfortable feelings of sadness or anxiety they experience. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America reports about 20 percent of substance abusers have an anxiety disorder or a mood disorder, such as depression. When someone is struggling with mental illness, it often isnt visible to the sufferer, who is in the thick of it.

    For many Americans, drug use starts with a prescription. Opiate-based drugs like OxyContin are notorious for both their addictive properties and their likelihood of being overprescribed. The Los Angeles Times reported more around 92,200 people were treated for overdoses on prescription opioid pain relievers in 2010. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes an astounding 259 million prescriptions were written for opioid painkillers in 2012 alone.

    Recommended Reading: Why Do People Get Addicted To Meth

    Dependence Or Tolerance Of Prescription Drugs

    When delving into the causes of substance abuse, its critical to look at how legal, prescription drugs play a part too. When your doctor prescribes a narcotic medication for pain, there is a chance you could become addicted to them. First, you may develop a tolerance to the dose youre on. As you increase the dosage, your body develops a dependence on them. If you try to stop taking them abruptly, youll experience uncomfortable symptoms.

    These are a few of the causes of substance abuse. Young people may have an additional reason. Peer pressure is a likely factor that they start using drugs and consequently become addicted. Whatever the reasons may be for substance abuse, there is hope for recovery with proper treatment.

    What Happens When A Person Uses Substances

    What is addiction? | APA

    Sometimes regular use of substances can change our brain function and structure so that there is no control over the need to use substances, regardless of the possibility of harm. These changes to our brain function may result in a health condition called substance use disorder.

    Substance use disorder is a medically diagnosed condition, not a choice, weakness, or moral failing. The risk of substance use disorder and how fast a person becomes addicted varies by substance. Some substances, such as opioid painkillers, have a higher risk and cause the disorder more quickly than others.

    Substance use is not a choice. When a person is affected by substance use disorder, they crave the drug, and are not concerned about its harmful effects. The drug becomes the focus of their feelings, thoughts, and activities.

    Substance use disorder is actually very complex, and people develop the disorder for many reasons, including:

    • events in life, especially trauma or chronic stress
    • environmental factors
    • mental well-being
    • genetics and biology

    These reasons and physical dependence make it hard to stop using substances.

    Substance use disorder is a treatable medical condition. No one chooses to become addicted. Do not think it is a simple matter of a person not having the willpower to control themselves.

    Understand that when an individual seeks help or treatment, this journey may have many routes, and healing may take some time. Recurrence is common.

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    Individual Risk And Protective Factors


    • Genes account for 40-60% of the risk for addiction development
    • Differences in metabolic variations by race for example, Native American and Caucasian populations more likely than Asian populations to develop a substance use disorder because of the polymorphism of two liver enzymes

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