Why Does Addiction Occur?

Millions of Americans and their loved ones have felt the impacts of substance use issues. In addition to the health consequences, these issues can lead to relationship difficulties, job loss, and financial instability. If you or someone you know drinks to excess or uses drugs in ways other than as prescribed, understanding addiction is crucial. Awareness of the causes of addiction can help you avoid developing serious problems. It can also support an effective recovery when such problems already exist.

Causes of Substance Abuse

Substance abuse is a single term with two definitions. The first of these definitions is used to describe an excessive pattern of alcohol, medication, or drug use. Today, experts also refer to this kind of pattern as substance misuse. 

Under its second definition, substance abuse is a diagnosable mental health condition. Along with addiction, this condition forms an illness called substance use disorder. People with diagnosable substance abuse are not necessarily affected by addiction. However, their pattern of substance misuse still causes them life-disrupting harm.

What are the causes of substance abuse? In other words, what sparks a pattern of drug or alcohol misuse? Specific reasons vary from person to person. However, common motivations include:

  • Relieving pain
  • Fitting in with a group of substance-using peers
  • Easing stress and increasing relaxation
  • Boosting energy levels
  • Self-medicating diagnosed or undiagnosed mental health issues

In addition, some people start misusing drugs or alcohol mainly for recreational reasons. 

Causes of Addiction

Why does addiction occur? As a rule, problems start with the onset of drug or alcohol misuse. When you first start drinking or taking drugs, your brain treats the presence of these substances as an unusual situation. As soon as they’re out of your system, things go back to normal. 

However, if you regularly misuse drugs or alcohol, your brain’s treatment of them can undergo a significant change. What was once an unusual event may now be treated as a new norm. In other words, your brain may count on alcohol or a given drug being present in your system. Addiction specialists refer to this expectant state as physical dependence.

If you’re only physically dependent on a particular substance, addiction can be averted. How? By halting your pattern of misuse. If your substance misuse doesn’t stop, physical dependence may soon be accompanied by psychological dependence. You reach this state when you have an additional emotional need for more alcohol or drugs. 

Once you are physically and psychologically dependent, you may undergo a key change in your behavior. This change is defined by an involuntary need to obtain and use more drugs or alcohol. Addiction makes its full arrival with the onset of this compulsive need. 

Common Factors for Addiction Risks

Addiction can affect anyone. However, the risks for substance problems are not the same for everyone who drinks or takes drugs. Why does addiction occur more often in certain people? Factors known to have an impact on your risks include:

  • Your genetic inheritance
  • The environment in which you were born and raised
  • Your age when you first started drinking or using drugs

Your genetic background, environment, and age of first use can make you more or less likely to develop problems.

Learn More About the Causes of Addiction at Tree House Recovery

Want to know more about how addiction develops? The experts at Tree House have the detailed information you need. We can also help you get a better picture of your chances of becoming addicted to drugs or alcohol.

If you’re already affected by addiction, Tree House Recovery can help. We feature an intensive outpatient model that allows you to make an effective recovery part of your daily routine. To learn more about this targeted approach, call us today at 910.519.8835 or contact us online.