The Causes of Addiction

Addiction is defined as a problematic substance use that impairs a person’s ability to function in a significant way. Many theories exist concerning the cause of addiction. Cultural elements, biology, social elements as well as psychology all play a part in causing addiction. Studies have confirmed there is not just one single path people take to becoming addicts.

Addiction Factors

Research has shown addiction is often associated with what a person does or does not have going on in their life. This often determines why these substances begin to be attractive. Many factors have been proven to be associated with becoming an addict.

  • Feelings a person has about themselves
  • Physiological responses
  • Emotional state
  • Access to rewards in life
  • Quality of family relationships
  • Personality traits
  • Social ties
  • Compelling goals and progress toward them
  • Community attributes
  • Emotional pain
  • Employment status
  • Physical pain
  • Stress reactivity
  • Coping skills

Addictive Characteristics

Certain characteristics can be attributed to individuals who become addicted to drugs or alcohol.

Ignoring Negative Consequences. These are individuals who know the negative consequences associated with abusing drugs or alcohol but ignore them. They don’t seem to care about the legal, health, or financial problems associated with their addiction. They can’t stop despite the negative impact it has on many areas of their life.

Negativity – Drugs and alcohol are part of an addict’s desire to lower pain as they maximize pleasure. In many cases, an addict will start as a result of negativity about their restlessness, sadness, discomfort, loneliness, and more.

Out of Control – As a person’s addiction progresses, they often feel they’ve lost control over their behavior as well as thoughts. They’ll feel unable to stop using drugs or alcohol.

Preoccupation – An addict is always preoccupied with using. They will spend a significant amount of their time thinking about, obtaining, and then recovering from the use of drugs or alcohol. They struggle with suppressing their desire for alcohol or their drug of choice.

Temporary Fulfillment – Once an individual becomes addicted to alcohol or drugs, they will only experience a temporary feeling of satisfaction. It is usually short-lived, and they then experience urges for more.


It has been shown that genetics is a significant factor in addiction. It is considered a genetic trait that is moderate to highly heritable. Parents pass on their traits to their children. A child is born with 46 chromosomes and each contains thousands of genes from their parents.

  • Hallucinogens – 39 percent heritability
  • Cocaine – 72 percent heritability
  • Marijuana – 41 percent heritability
  • Opiates – 70 percent heritability
  • Sedatives – 50 percent heritability
  • Alcohol – 55 percent heritability

Environmental Factors

There are environmental factors that influence a person’s ability to become an addict. They involve biology, genes, and more. The significance of early life experiences and family environment is significant. Levels of supervision, family interactions, parenting style are all part of developing coping skills and establishing susceptibility for mental health problems. Some studies have proven there is a link between neglectful or authoritarian parenting, as well as family violence, and divorce resulting in an increased chance of people developing substance abuse later in life.


Peers are a major force in addiction susceptibility. This is especially true among teens and young adults. According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, the improper use of prescription drugs are most significant among adults 18 to 25. The most common young person to abuse drugs in the United States are adolescents. A friend’s behavior pattern influences all individuals who are part of a group.

Risk Factors

Certain risk factors increase the chances of addiction. They are things such as job, educational opportunities, stress tolerance, social factors, personality makeup, and more. These factors impact each person in a unique way. The emotional and physical appeal of a substance during a specific moment in a person’s life is a serious risk factor.

Brain Malfunction

It is common to assume that addiction is a brain disease and this is what causes individuals to become addicts. This is not true. Several studies have determined that the regular use of substances results in a surge of dopamine and this will cause a brain’s wiring to change. All of these changes can be reversed once a person discontinues their use of sdrugs or alcohol.

Addictive Personality

Some common personality traits contribute significantly to the risk of developing an addiction. Individuals who are thrill-seekers may find themselves in situations where alcohol and drugs are often available. Individuals who are overwhelmed with minor frustrations are more prone to addiction. This is the case with many mental health issues such as those with depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and more.

Do you believe you or a loved one could have an addiction issue? Now may be the time to address it. Call us today at 123-456-7890. You can speak with us 24 hours a day at 833-364-0736.