8 Real Reasons Behind Your Addictions…What Can You Do About It?

So, what is addiction anyway?

The generally agreed upon clinical and slightly pedantic definition for addiction is: A highly complex set of phenomena that cannot be reduced to one cause which means there is no one solution or treatment. What this means is that there are a number of factors that influence addiction and the more of these factors you have, the higher your chances that you’ll become an addict. To assign the blame of addiction to one particular cause is troublesome. Many of the causes can be related or composites so they can’t be reduced down to single parts.

It’s also possible that you may have a number of the phenomena and still not be an addict. Overall, the chances of your not becoming an addict are in your favor: Less than 10 percent of Americans age 12 or older needed treatment for illicit drug or alcohol or alcohol abuse problem (according to 2011 data).

Here is a list of the potential phenomena that can lead a person toward addiction:

1) Trauma:

Suffering a trauma doesn’t guarantee that a person will develop an addiction but research has shown that trauma can be a major underlying source of addiction behavior.

According to studies:

  • an estimated 25 to 75 percent of people who survive abuse and/or violent trauma develop issues related to alcohol abuse.
  • Between 10 and 33 percent of survivors of accidents, illness, or natural disasters report suffering from alcohol abuse.
  • A diagnosis of PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) increases the risk of developing alcohol abuse.
  • Sexual abuse survivors experience a higher rate of alcohol and drug use disorders compared to those who have not survived such abuse.

Trauma can affect many areas of the brain including the brain’s threat detection, memory processing, and its center for executive control. Addiction can often help reduce the overwhelming sensations that post-trauma changes create.

2) Mental Illness:

In technical jargon drug abuse with mental illness is known as comorbidity. Research consistently shows that people diagnosed with a mental disorder are at least twice as likely to also suffer from a substance abuse disorder. There does seem to be some uncertainty about whether its drug abuse that causes mental disorders or that mental disorders cause drug abuse: causality is complicated and difficult to prove. People with mental disorders will often self-medicate with drugs. Using drugs with a mental illness can increase one’s vulnerability to abusing substances. The drugs can produce changes in the brain that favor the positive effects of the drugs while lessening the negative ones. Drugs can also alleviate unpleasant effects associated with a mental disorder or the medication used to treat it. For someone who has a mental illness who abuses drugs it can bring about symptoms of another mental illness and even the risk of psychosis.

3) Genetics:

Heredity can be a major risk factor for addiction. Scientists estimate that a person’s risk for addiction is 40 to 60 percent based on genetics. Children from families where addiction is present are far more likely to have addiction problems as adults. Studies have shown no gene or set of genes will directly cause a person to become a drug abuser but genes can influence a number of behavioral traits and disorders among these alcoholism and drug dependence. People born into families with substance abuse problems may not only be more susceptible to developing an addiction, they may also find it harder to quit once they become addicted.

4) Addictive Personality:

Some people can use drugs and alcohol in moderation and others cannot. Some seem to have a set of personality traits that lead them to dependency. It is estimated that 10 to 15 percent of the population has an addictive personality. Addictive personality traits both biological and psychological factors that can include:

  • Acting on impulse without thinking about the impact of actions taken: You might call this yielding too easily to temptation.
  • Constantly seeking new sensations and new experiences: While these traits may make a person more interesting and spontaneous they are also most likely to try psychoactive drugs. The hunger for new experience can lead to more experimentation, and abuse, of drugs and alcohol.
  • Suffering from high levels of stress and anxiety: Whether this is expressed as personal regret for impulsive actions taken or feelings of disappointment coming from others for impulsive behavior, the end result is stress and anxiety.
  • Placing a high value on nonconformity: They can have less of a desire to achieve goals valued by society, because of this they may also have a higher threshold for negative impacts on their personal, social, or work lives that addiction will cause.
  • Mood swings and negative self-image: When addiction is new it can be exhilarating, but of course this feeling will quickly pass and soon the addict is left with ramifications of their destructive behavior. Because of this person’s constant hunger for the new, or changing one addiction for another

5) Drugs Rewire the Brain:

We know now that drug abuse is not simply a matter or weak willpower but that drugs actually changes both the structure and function of the brain. It begins with the way the brain registers pleasure. Whether it’s a monetary reward, a sexual encounter, or a satisfying meal pleasure has a distinct signature in the brain; the release of the neurotransmitter dopamine in the nucleus accumbens, a cluster of nerve cells lying underneath the cerebral cortex. If you think about a drug, take a drug, or crave a drug, your nucleus accumbens gets lit up with a surge of electrochemical activity. This is a part of the brain that develops early and studies have shown that teenagers can have exaggerated responses – one reason why teenagers can be so susceptible to addiction. If this part of the brain were removed, drug addiction could be cured. (But who wants to cut out a center chunk of their brain?)

6) Physical Predisposition:

Many who become drug addicted were predisposed to addiction because of their own naturally depressed dopamine levels. For those with a poorly functioning dopamine system this can lead to chronic feelings of lack of reward, pleasure, meaning, belonging, and purpose. This, in turn, can lead to the person needing to self-medicate through the use of drugs. The abnormally large surge of in dopamine levels can activate the pleasure response. Same with those with other brain chemical deficiencies like serotonin – linked to depression, anxiety, and Obsessive-compulsive Disorder.

7) Environment:

Environmental risk factors can include anything in a person’s surroundings that can increase their likelihood of becoming addicted to drugs. Environment can mean anything from parent neglect to peer pressure, substance access and availability to growing up in a household with an addict or alcoholic. A person may have many environments, or domains, of influence in their lives. Domains can be community, family, school, work, and friends. Addiction can develop in any of these domains.

  • One’s community can have risk factors that can play a big part in their likelihood of abusing drugs. If the community has a favorable attitude toward drug use, firearms, and crime then the person’s risk is increased.
  • Peers can be the single biggest contributing factor to drug abuse risk. If a person’s friends have favorable attitudes towards drug use, this can also increase risk.
  • Stress and conflict at home can provide increased risk of drug use too. Also, if parents have favorable attitudes towards drugs or drug use their children will be more likely to abuse drugs themselves.
  • For adolescents, their performance, participation, and commitment to school, or lack of it, can be a major risk factor.
  • For working adults, work can often contribute to addiction, especially alcoholism. Drinking can used as a coping mechanism for the stresses and strains of work. Also, a job that has an employee culture of drinking can be a contributing factor. Feelings of workplace powerlessness, meaninglessness, and alienation can also be risk factors.

8) Early Use:

Another risk factor for addiction is the age at which began the use. Research shows that the younger the user is, the more likely they are to become addicted. By exhibiting addictive behavior in the younger years, this can have an impact on brain development. This in turn can make young people more prone to mental health disorders as the addiction progresses.

While addiction is considered a disease of the brain it is one that is highly treatable. As addiction can be a complex problem with many causes, treatment should also include a multifarious program of different methods and approaches in order to be effective.

If you or a loved one have an addiction to alcohol, contact BLVD Treatment Centers. At BLVD Treatment Centers we custom tailor our recovery programs within the safe and nurturing confines of our rehab treatment centers. Located throughout California, in Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego and in Portland, OR, our mission is to assess the severity of your addiction to help you achieve true recovery within 30 days. Call us now at 1-866.582.9844.

The 8 Real Reasons Behind Your Addictions