Drug & Alcohol Addiction: What Causes It?
The National Survey on Drug Use and Health has found that 21.5 million individuals in the US who are above the age of 12, struggle with substance addiction. What is it that makes this disorder so prevalent in such a huge chunk of the population?
In about 98% of individuals struggling with addiction has had some time on trauma that they experienced as a child or young adult that they have not talked about or dealt with in a healthy way. Most don’t even realize that what they experienced was trauma until they tell a professional who deals with different types of trauma. Unless properly dealt with, trauma can continue to adversely affect a person’s life for an indefinite period. A perfect example is the use of drugs and alcohol to cope with the underlying trauma that exist in that person to this day.
How people cope with their trauma varies from person to person. The survival instinct of the brain kicks in, and people may adopt a coping mechanism that allows them to block out or deal with the traumatic incident they once experienced.
Overtime, they may not be able to properly function without consuming the substance at regular intervals and can become addicted.
Mental Health Conditions
Mental health also plays a big role in drug & alcohol addiction. Research has found that individuals who have an addiction problem are also likely to have depression and/or anxiety. These mental disorders often accompanied by some other mental health conditions, and may also develop substance use disorder, i.e. addiction. The hardest thing to diagnose however is which came first. Does this individual have a mental health condition because of long-term drug use or does this person abuse drugs and alcohol to self medicate because of a undiagnosed mental health condition.
For example, the link between cigarette smoking and schizophrenia has been studied and it has been found that there is a causal relationship between the two. In fact, studies have shown that the nicotine present in cigarettes can actually help certain parts of the brain that are affected by schizophrenia, by creating a calming effect. This helps in reducing the anxiety felt by patients, but in turn, they may get addicted to nicotine.
Believe it or not but biological factors come into play as well. Apart from the environmental factors that may lead to the development of substance use disorder, a person’s genetic predisposition too can cause addiction.
This has been proven in genetic studies. It has been found that addictions are chronic and complex conditions that are affected by an individual’s genetic built. These studies have allowed for a better understanding of the disorder and have helped in removing the stigma attached to addiction and methods of treatment.
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