It’s hard for a person outside of addiction to understand why someone abuses substances. What these people do not realize is that addicts believe substances help them enjoy or cope with life. What they don’t realize is that they have actually developed a serious dependency to substances. 

Substance and addiction problems are dynamic and often with significant impacts on the patient. Today, we’re going to discuss what exactly factors can cause a person to develop a dependence to drugs or alcohol and why it happens.

What are the factors that cause addiction?

History of substance abuse in the family

Genetics can have a heavy influence on whether a person develops an addiction or not. To be more precise, a person with addiction in their family history is actually 50% more likely to develop one. Twin studies have shown this. The other twin is likely to be addicted if one equal twin is addicted to alcohol. But the other twin does not necessarily have an addiction if one non-identical twin is an alcoholic. Studies have shown that 50-60% of addiction is due to genetic factors based on the differences between the same and the non-identical twins. If a father, mother, grandfather, or grandmother suffered from addiction in the past, their offspring will be much more likely to develop one themselves.

Poor stress management skills

Stress is a major risk factor of dependency. For a number of reasons, anxiety is a risk factor. The more stressed you become, the more you want to escape or relax, and that is why people are turning to alcohol or drugs. Secondly, when you are under stress, rather than doing what might be good for you, we often seek out whatever is easiest. This often results in people binge drinking or using drugs to escape since it’s easier than exercising or getting outside. 

Negative mindset

If you are stressed, uncomfortable, irritable, or discontent, this can lead to a negative mindset that can hinder your decision-making skills. When all you have are negative emotions and feelings, you’ll want to escape, relax, or find some kind of enjoyment which can lead directly to substance abuse

Underlying anxiety or depression

Around 15-30% of abusers also suffer from underlying depression. This double condition can be referred to as dual-diagnosis. The problem is that some people seek out substances if they’re depressed, or people become depressed after seeking out substances too often.

What are the factors that make worsen addiction?

Outside of the factors we mentioned above, let’s discuss what factors can worsen addiction. Though addiction does not take any bias and most everyone can be susceptible to the disorder, there are common factors that we often find in many struggling or former addicts. Most notably, factors like genetics and environment play a key role in a person’s continued substance abuse. Let’s discuss this more.

Genetics

The reaction of your body and brain to a particular medicinal product is partially determined by the inherited characteristics of your genes. As we mentioned previously, if a person has relatives that have suffered from addiction, they are far more likely to develop an addiction themselves. If a person still sees a family member abuse substances, it can also appear normal to them. If their parents continually get drunk and binge drink, they can see that as normal and acceptable behavior.

Environment

Environmental factors, like the prevalence of drugs/alcohol, the social acceptance of substance abuse, and the availability of substances can have a great impact on a person’s substance abuse habits. If a person lives in an area where getting drunk every night is a normal thing, they will be more likely to do just that. If a person surrounds themselves with friends and family that actively abuse substances, they will once again become more likely to perform the same behaviors.

Genetics and Drug Addiction

There are three factors that affect a person’s willingness to engage in a particular behavior:

  • Capability: A person must engage in behavior in a psychological or physical capacity.
  • Motivation: The automatic and reflecting mental processes that guide behavior, both the euphoric feelings you are experiencing immediately after using the drug and your more aware attitudes to drug use.
  • Opportunity: The physical and social factors that either restrict or promote behavior in your environment, including the age of first use.

Environment and its relation to addiction

The environment is also important in the development of dependence, as the climate has an effect on behavior. Environmental contributory factors to drug dependence include:

  • Lack of social assistance
  • Drug use among many individuals
  • Socio-economic state
  • stress and the capacity to cope
  • Family and adult engagement
  • The past of misconduct or disrespect
  • Compulsive behavior history

There are ways to mitigate adverse environmental conditions and to combat or prevent drug addiction in the first place. It is not an easy process to change environmental factors like socioeconomic status. Another method of doing this is to postpone alcohol use. One is to promote social rewards, such as learning and training, for positive behavior. Vigilant families and friends can also form positive behavior and participate in supportive practices for hazardous participants.

All these measures can help counter environmental factors that can lead to drug dependence.

Addiction to drugs and brain change

Drug dependence often causes serious changes to the brain and body. In particular, addiction changes the way we experience pleasure. Continually abusing substances will make a person feel as though substances are the only things that can make them feel pleasure, making other activities like eating food, having sex, or exercising feel less stimulating. When this happens, a person is only further encouraged to abuse substances, leading them down a dark path of addiction.

What we often fail to realize is that addiction is not necessarily these people’s fault. Yes, they made the initial decision to use a substance, but after that their brain is manipulated by the toxins in substances. These toxins cause a person to feel like they need to use again and again; this is how addiction forms. We need to realize that there are a lot of factors that cause a person to develop habits like these and that they need our help. Addiction tells these people that they are getting the help they need through substance use, but this couldn’t be further from the truth.

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