We all have coping mechanisms for stressful situations. Some of these techniques are healthier than others, and some can lead to more stress. When we use substances to escape stressful conditions, we can develop a dependency that triggers the cycle of addiction. But what puts someone at risk for addiction in the first place? Are some people more at risk for addiction than others?
Causes of Addiction
The two main causes of addiction are biology and environment. Your genes and biology might account for about half of the equation, and your surroundings and social influences might account for the rest.
There are many possible sources for a person’s addiction. Everyone’s situation is a little different, but there are a few common threads.
11 Possible Causes of Addiction
1: Genetic Predisposition
If you have a family member with an addiction, it can put you at higher risk of having your own substance use issues. Your genetic makeup can make you more prone to addiction.
2: Biological Factors
Your age, sex, race, and mental health can influence how your body responds to substances and whether you will more easily develop an addiction.
3: The Brain’s Response to the Body
Drugs and alcohol can flood the reward centers in the brain with dopamine, and this can cause problems with the regulation of dopamine levels. Repeated use can cause an individual to feel “off” when they’re not actively using. They may continue using to feel “normal,” altering dopamine levels to avoid the resulting symptoms of depression.
4: Early Childhood Trauma and Abuse
The greater the number of traumatic events you witnessed or endured as a child, the higher the likelihood of encountering addiction challenges later in life. This post about Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Addiction delves into how trauma can increase the risk for drug and alcohol abuse.
5: Social Influences
As teenagers, we are heavily influenced by our peers. Suppose young people hang out with other teens who are drinking or using drugs. In that case, the risk of developing an addiction is higher for kids who spend time with those who encourage a focus on academics, sports, extracurriculars, and other positive endeavors.
6: Mental Health
Grappling with a mental health disorder like depression or anxiety can cause some people to self-medicate with drugs or alcohol to try to escape or quell the symptoms of their mental illness, leading to addiction. This is one of the reasons why we take a dual-diagnosis approach to treatment at All Points North Lodge.
7: Family Dysfunction
Lack of parental bonds or adult supervision or being around adults with addictions when growing up can increase the risk for substance abuse and addiction. Generational trauma can also contribute to family dysfunction.
8: Early Use
The earlier a person uses drugs, the greater the possibility for changes in brain structure that can lead to addiction more quickly. Adolescent brains are more susceptible to changes caused by neurotransmitter imbalances.
Studies show that significant stress can create epigenetic changes in the brain. Stress hormones can alter genetic material that can lead to addiction and relapse for those in recovery.
10: Taking More Highly-Addictive Drugs
The more addictive the drug, the faster the brain will change, making addiction more likely. As people build a tolerance to their substance of choice, they may seek stronger substances to achieve the desired effect.
11: Lack of Support and Adequate Treatment
Relationships with friends and loved ones can become frayed, and some treatment experiences aren’t ideal. These damaged support systems can cause someone to turn back to drugs or alcohol. This is why accessible treatment options are essential.
Getting Support for Addiction
All Points North Lodge provides exceptional, multi-layered treatment plans customized for each situation. Face your challenges with the support of a fantastic team who will have your back every step of the way. Please get in touch with us by phone at 855-510-4585 or via to get started.
- NIDA. “Drug Misuse and Addiction.” National Institute on Drug Abuse, 13 Jul. 2020, https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugs-brains-behavior-science-addiction/drug-misuse-addiction Accessed 23 Nov. 2021.
- “Drug Addiction (Substance Use Disorder).” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 26 Oct. 2017, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/drug-addiction/symptoms-causes/syc-20365112.
- Mavrikaki, Maria. “Your Genes and Addiction.” Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard Medical School, 28 Jan. 2019, https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/your-genes-and-addiction-2019012815730.
- “Biology of Addiction.” National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Oct. 2015, https://newsinhealth.nih.gov/2015/10/biology-addiction.