Understanding addiction can be difficult. Comprehending why someone would use cocaine, alcohol, or methamphetamine to the point they destroy their family, career, finances, and health can be dumbfounding without facts.
A substance use disorder or addiction is defined by the Mayo Clinic as when someone continues to use alcohol or drugs despite knowing about or seeing the harm it causes. This behavior can have many triggers, but there are three main causes of addiction.
Research has identified that while behaviors of addiction are harmful, there can be some anticipated benefit from the behavior. When a person uses, they expect something positive to happen – anything from relieving boredom to minimizing a stressful period of time, coping with pain to skipping withdrawal symptoms. A Denver detox center can help addicts through the withdrawal process.
Sometimes getting high helps a person skip the steps involved in processing negative feelings. People who do not have good coping skills are susceptible to addictive behaviors, as are people who do not know how to replace unhealthy behaviors with healthy options. Many people with psychological issues often self-medicate with illicit drugs because they are either unaware of their illness or do not receive proper medical attention.
Some theorize that abuse disorders are inherited. This could explain why some people have no issue with prescription drugs such as opioids, and other people develop a dependence from their very first dose.
The age when a person first uses drugs or alcohol strongly correlates to their rate of substance abuse as well. People who experiment from an early age often develop issues with addiction because the substances are interrupting natural development of their young brains. The human brain motivates us to repeat enjoyable behaviors, like eating, to ensure the survival of the species. But when those pleasures are replaced with the highs from drugs, people become vulnerable to addiction.
The shared beliefs and values of the people around you define your culture. If the group of people you are surrounded by every day accept or participate in substance abuse, all of the members of the group are less likely to be concerned about drug or alcohol abuse. Sometimes, not participating in drug use causes a person to be cast out from the group, and that can lead to anxiety. No one wants to be left out by their friends or kicked out by their family. The influence of these social groups can be strong enough that a person who would never consider taking drugs willingly participates just to fit in.
Addiction can also be generational. If extended family, parents, or grandparents were users, children can see no issue with also using or misusing. Within a family, brothers and sisters can use sibling rivalry or peer pressure to encourage younger family members to also use drugs.
Drug and alcohol use can escalate to abuse and into addiction quickly. It is important to understand the causes of drug use and addiction so the right treatment can be sought when needed.