Why does addiction happen? It’s not always easy to understand why addiction happens to you or to your loved one. After all, many people drink alcohol or use drugs without ever seeming to have a problem. Sometimes, the reason for addiction is partly biological, meaning that some people are more genetically prone to struggling with addiction than others. Yet addiction usually occurs for other reasons as well, both environmental and psychological.
Most importantly, remember that no matter what causes addiction, if you are struggling with it, help is available. You don’t have to feel stuck or hopeless.
Common Causes of Addiction
Take into consideration these causes of addiction that may shed light on the risks you or a loved one face.
One of the most common reasons people seek out drugs and alcohol is because of the trauma they’ve experienced at some point in their life. When traumatic events occur, the brain isn’t always capable of properly processing what’s happened. This often leads to unresolved pain and emotional damage.
Many people undergoing addiction treatment report trauma of some type in their past. This could be related to:
- Sexual assault
- Emotional abuse
- Physical abuse
Some people may not realize they have a traumatic history because they don’t remember events; or they may remember what’s occurred but don’t understand that it continues to affect them. Many people with trauma turn to substances as a way to self-medicate. Drugs may initially help to numb the pain.
#2: Mental Health Disorders
A large percentage of people with addiction also suffer from mental health disorders. This may be, like trauma, a reason why some people self-medicate using drugs or alcohol. Some of the most common disorders include:
- Severe anxiety
- Bipolar disorder
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Panic disorders
Often, a person has an undiagnosed mental health condition that limits their ability to stop using drugs and alcohol. Without realizing it, they may be using drugs as a way to deal with the symptoms they have.
Drug and alcohol addiction is more common in people who live in poverty or financial distress. Some people turn to drugs and alcohol when living in impoverished circumstances as a way to manage the stress they feel. As Dr. Peter Grinspoon writes in the article linked above, “A patient can be stable for years on buprenorphine or methadone (medications to manage cravings and help with recovery), but if they abruptly lose their housing due to no fault of their own, they can lose access to the organization and security in their lives. It becomes far more difficult for them to care for their families, to attend medical appointments or support groups, to fill prescriptions, or to practice any of the self-care that is so integral to maintaining oneself in recovery.”
More so, those who live in these environments may find it much harder to get help for addiction, trauma, or mental health disorders.
A child who watches their parents use drugs and alcohol excessively may believe this is normal behavior, and that puts them at a higher risk of struggling with addiction themselves.
The home environment can carry its own risks, but peer pressure outside of the home is also a factor. Though using a substance one time may not seem dangerous, it can be, and it can put a person at risk for a wide range of health complications, including overdose. Continued use can lead to addiction.
As noted, some people are more prone to addiction than others. This could be due to their genetic makeup. If you have a parent or grandparent that has an addiction, that could mean you have a higher risk of developing one yourself. That does not mean you will develop it. You can still choose not to use highly addictive substances and protect yourself from that path. That also doesn’t mean that treatment cannot help you. It can!
If you struggle with addiction, reach out for help. Recognizing the cause is only one step in the treatment process, but The Ranch at Dove Tree can help you. Set up a conversation with our team in Lubbock, TX, to discuss what steps we can take to help you today.