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Causes of Drug Addiction

No one wants to be a drug addict or alcoholic, but this doesn’t stop people from getting addicted. The most commonly asked question is simply - how? How could my son, daughter, father, sister, or brother become a liar, a thief, someone who cannot be trusted? How could this happen? And why won’t they stop?

There are many causes of drug addiction, here are just a few:

  • changes in the brain take place as a result from drug use contribute to addiction and abuse
  • some drugs possess reinforcing qualities that make them more addictive than others
  • easy access, and environmental, psychological, and cultural factors play a role in who starts or continues to abuse drugs
  • drugs "numbing" effects help to ease the emotional/physical pain that the individual is experiencing
  • drugs produce a sense of euphoria that make the individual feel good

Drug addiction is also caused because some substances are more addictive than others, either because they produce a rapid and intense change in mood; or because they produce painful withdrawal symptoms when stopped suddenly. Social learning is considered the most important single factor in the cause of drug addiction. It includes patterns of use in the addict's family or subculture, peer pressure, and advertising or media influence.

The first thing you must understand about addiction is that alcohol and addictive drugs are basically painkillers. They chemically kill physical or emotional pain and alter the mind’s perception of reality. They make people numb. For drugs to be attractive to a person there must first be some underlying unhappiness, sense of hopelessness, or physical pain.

As a result of their experiences created by the biological reinforcement and high tolerance, the person comes to believe that the drug of choice is good for them and will magically fix them or make them better. They start to develop an addictive belief system. They come to view people who support their drug use as friends and people who fail to support it as their enemies.

At this point the person is experiencing both positive and negative reinforcement to keep using. If they continue to use they experience euphoria and pain relief. This occurs because the brain releases large amounts of reward chemicals when they use their drug of choice.

If they stop using, they experience dysphoria or pain and suffering. They start to experience a sense of anhedonia that is marked by a low grade agitated depression and the inability to experience pleasure. They begin to believe that they have no choice but to keep using.