What Are the Causes of Addiction

What Are the Causes of Addiction?

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Factors that Contribute to Addiction – Causes of Addiction As Discussed by Arizona Drug Rehab

The biggest question people have about the causes of addiction is “why?” Family members and friends of those wrestling with substance use disorders often ask themselves why they cannot get through to their loved ones. Similarly, the person struggling with addiction will often ask themselves the same thing. Arizona drug rehab centers address these questions and why it is so difficult to break the addiction cycle. The truth of the matter is that there is no single cause of substance abuse.

Addiction can affect anyone. The underlying reasons are as personal and unique as the people themselves. But there are some common causes most people with a substance abuse problem share. Looking more closely at these causes can help foster a greater understanding and empathy. Through greater awareness, it can become easier to understand your loved one’s needs and get them the help they need most.

If you are currently suffering from a substance use disorder, gaining insight into the causes of addiction may help you find the best path to recovery. Knowing how addiction happens and why people can’t simply quit is essential to understanding the value of treatment.

Is Addiction a Choice?

Perhaps the most controversial debate around substance abuse is whether it is about personal choice. The answer is not “yes or no” but rather “yes, but also.” When a person chooses to drink or do drugs, chemical reactions take place in their brain, making them more likely to develop a substance use disorder. The decision to continue use is individual, but it is intensely influenced by their brain’s craving for its substance of choice.

A person who drinks to relieve stress is responsible for that choice, but their brain also makes it harder for them not to. [1] As addiction develops, the ability to turn away from a substance becomes more difficult. The brain’s natural reward system becomes “overwritten” by drugs and alcohol; instead of experiencing the natural highs of life, people need to take substances to experience the rush of dopamine that makes them feel good.

Ultimately, everyone does have a choice. The decision to start using and the decision to get help are entirely their own. But recognizing the psychological and biological factors that are out of their hands is also important in gaining a fuller understanding of how addiction works.

Addiction Risk Factors


Genetics can make someone more likely to develop a drinking or drug problem. [2] Experts believe genetics make up to 60 percent of a person’s risk. They also make them up to 54 percent more capable of quitting.

Genetic factors do not mean someone is doomed to suffer from addiction forever, though. Instead, this information helps professionals tailor treatments to be more responsive. Personalized care addresses all risk factors a person faces, making their treatment more likely to be a success.

Environmental Risks

How a person is raised and what they are exposed to can also affect how likely they are to develop an addiction. People who start drinking or doing drugs during childhood or adolescence are more likely to have substance use disorders as adults; substance use among teens can also lead to permanent changes in the brain. Addiction makes teenagers more vulnerable to mental health disorders and further substance abuse problems as they get older.

Other environmental factors that affect addiction risk are:

  • Abusive childhoods.
  • Dysfunctional families.
  • Parents who use.
  • Peer pressure.
  • Lack of supervision or discipline.
  • Struggles with behavior and impulse control.

Type of Drug

The withdrawal effects from some drugs can be much more intense than others. People who want to avoid the negative side-effects of withdrawing are more likely to take drugs more frequently. This can quickly build up a dependency that becomes a full-blown addiction.

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Factors that Contribute to Addiction - Causes of Addiction As Discussed by Arizona Drug Rehab

Mental Health

Someone with a mental health problem is more likely to struggle with addiction. In a 2018 report by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 37.9 percent of 20.3 million adults with substance abuse disorders also had a mental illness. [3] The longer mental health problems go unchecked, the more vulnerable they become.

Life Experiences

People who experience trauma, suffer abuse, and have relationship instability may be more likely to turn to substances to escape. The difficulty of carrying around painful memories and emotions can become unbearable. Left untreated, the effects of trauma, abuse, and poor relationships can lead to mental health problems.

Whether it is depression or anxiety, experiences that wound people and go untreated become risks for addiction. Those who suffer from low self-esteem and self-worth might feel like there is no point in caring what happens to them anyway. They take drugs or drink to feel numb or feel something other than sadness.

Identifying the points in your life that have caused you to turn toward substances is an important part of recovery. Only when you learn to address those wounds can you start to heal and move forward.

Understand the Roots of Your Addiction at Arizona Drug Rehab

The path to recovery always begins with a single step. Understanding the causes of addiction is the first step for many. If substance abuse is becoming a concern for yourself or someone you love, contact your local hospital or one of our professionals at www.DesertCoveRecovery.com.



[1] https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/understanding-drug-use-addiction

[2] https://www.apa.org/monitor/2008/06/genes-addict

[3] https://www.drugabuse.gov/drug-topics/trends-statistics/infographics/comorbidity-substance-use-other-mental-disorders