Most people don’t fully understand what causes addiction to drugs. Some believe that addiction is merely a social delinquency when it is actually an unhealthy and sometimes dangerous physical dependency. Others believe that if drug abusers truly wanted to quit that they should be able to through willpower alone, and this is almost never the case. Drug addiction is far more complex than that. Drug users become addicted because the substance abuse triggers a compulsion to further feed the addiction. What some people fail to recognize is that addiction is a disease; one that affects the brain. Thankfully, a variety of effective treatments exists that can help any drug addict get sober. But what drives users to abuse drugs in the first place?
Why Some People Seem Predisposed to Addiction
There is no single factor that can predict a person’s susceptibility to drug addiction, and so there is no single cause of drug addiction. In fact, practically anyone, whether or not they have used drugs themselves, is at risk of addiction. It all depends on internal and external factors, such as the ones listed below:
A rather obvious contender on this list, peer pressure is one factor that influences the start of drug abuse. It exists within social groups of all ages but is particularly present among teens and young adults who abuse drugs.
Environmental factors play a larger role in drug use than most people realize. When an addict is restricted to an environment that encourages self-destructive habits like drug abuse or is surrounded by peers who regularly abuse drugs, it can be difficult not to get dragged into it and develop an addiction as a result.
This may come as a surprise, but sometimes the development of drug use into addiction may be influenced by genetic traits. In other words, drug addiction can run in the families. Some struggling addicts harbor a genetic predisposition to substance addiction; one that may affect the progression of the disease. In fact, genetics— combined with certain environmental factors— account for about half of a person’s overall addiction susceptibility. When a parent has an addiction to drugs or alcohol, the children are at equal or greater risk of developing the same addiction.
Developmental stages in a person’s life can affect addiction vulnerability just as drastically as environmental factors or genetics. While it is true that abusing drugs at any age can cause addiction, younger users tend to experience more extreme addictions than adults. This is because the brain doesn’t become fully developed until the age of 25. Until then, the areas of the brain that control decision-making, judgment, and self-control may not be strong enough to resist a developing drug addiction.
Preexisting Mental Health Disorder(s)
Some substance abusers have one or several mental health disorders that drive their compulsion to use drugs. Mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety, ADHD or even post-traumatic stress disorder can heavily influence substance dependency. In fact, most of the time substance abuse is a misguided means of coping with psychological difficulties. Cases like this are referred to as Dual Diagnosis.
How to Avoid What Causes Addiction to Drugs
Drug addiction is indeed a disease of the mind, but it is one that can be a prevented. Although many factors like the ones listed here can affect substance abuse trends, research shows that prevention programs and drug awareness education are effective in reducing drug abuse— especially when family, schools, and communities get involved. For more information about addiction and the programs we offer to treat it, please call All About Recovery at 888-712-8480.