What Causes Addiction?

 We all know that addiction is an incredibly complex disease, however, some people still wonder what causes this problem. This is a valid question but it is also one with a complex answer.

 There are a number of different factors that can cause and trigger someone’s addiction, everything from biological changes, family history, environmental factors, and more can all contribute to this problem.

 As we know from ACEs, or Adverse Childhood Experiences, there are many environmental factors that can influence someone’s drug-seeking behavior and may be the reason that they begin using in the first place. However, there are other factors that can be what causes people to keep going back.

 Family history of addiction and genetics are two of the most common reasons that people continue to use drugs, it can be a genetic predisposition to keep using these substances to the point where it becomes a dependency and a full-blown addiction problem.

 Certain variations in genes have been studied as increased risk factors for opioid addiction, and other addiction problems. Some of these genes can play a role in the way that neurotransmitters interact and can affect how some people’s bodies and minds may be influenced by drugs and alcohol.

 Along with these genetic factors, there are certain biological and neurological changes that occur during drug or alcohol use that can cause people to keep using. For instance, regular drug or alcohol use is something that can impact the reward circuit in the brain making it hard to feel pleasure from other stimuli besides those respective substances. 

 Moreover, it can also affect portions of the brain involved in stress and anxiety management and can cause people to feel these problems when they are not exposed to these drugs. This can lead to obvious withdrawal-related problems and cause people to continue to use drugs in order to escape these uncomfortable symptoms.

 Obviously, there are a lot of factors that can influence and cause someone’s addiction and it is something that changes from person-to-person. 

 Despite how dangerous and cyclical this problem can become, there are treatment options available to help people and drug and alcohol addiction is something that is treatable. With that said, there is no silver bullet for treatment, it will take a number of different forms of treatment to help someone. And even after getting sober, people will always be at risk for relapse and become addicted once more. 

 However, with the help of treatment centers or rehab, patients will develop methods and strategies that they can implement and look for to help them not only get sober but stay sober long-term. 

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Hi Matt. I was wondering if you want addiction to be an incredibly complex disease?  People who are in pain seek the end of that pain. Addiction is pain management. It is not really actually a disease or very complex. Addiction is pretty simple and the most honest straight forward of all maladies.  My joke is people who are hungry become addicted to eating food to end the pain of hunger. Not that funny perhaps but we do not call eating food a disease do we?  If you look at the whole of ACEs science and replace adversity with the word PAIN then you get a much better picture of what is at play.  Take the example of a survey that says the average child is told " no " 56,000 times by year 18. If you follow along and see what the effect of this much negative ( painful ) events over time, what are the emotional results? This one example of a non ACEs event sequence but painful and discouraging and disappointing over time. Well right there you have and an environmental trigger for your genes.  It is in no way a genetic predisposition. I am not sure there is an actual thing as a genetic predisposition. The genes and cells are epigenetic. We do not say the ear has a genetic predisposition to hear sound. That is a strange way of describing hearing.  Sound hits our ear and we hear. Nothing and no genetic predisposition is needed. With addiction, it is pretty simple. What was done to you then becomes internalized and we do to ourselves.  With the example of being told NO hundreds of ways and thousands of times with different meanings conclusions and feelings, all this becomes internalized as our inner world of pain and bad feelings and low self-worth.  Internalized pain will call for pain relief. 

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