What Causes Addiction

Addiction is a disease that can ruin your life and those you love. What may have started out as experimentation or as a way to cope with the stresses of life has become a full-blown substance abuse problem. Your addiction is growing worse by the day despite pleas from family members and repeated attempts to stop using drugs. You may feel tremendous feelings of hopelessness, and you may feel you will never break free from your addiction.


While addiction creates feelings of helplessness and desperation, there is professional help available to you. Knowing the causes of addiction and early detection of the signs and symptoms of addiction will give you the best chance at long-term recovery. If you are in need of immediate help, call Water Gap Wellness Center toll-free right now.


What is Addiction?

The American Society of Addiction Medicine has defined addiction as the following:

“Addiction is a treatable, chronic medical disease involving complex interactions among brain circuits, genetics, the environment, and an individual’s life experiences.”


The progression of your addiction is gradual. At first, you may drink or use drugs because it makes you feel good. You may also use substances in order to “take the edge” off a stressful day. As you progress in your use, you will need to take more of your drug or drugs of choice in order to feel the same pleasurable effects. Over time, you will need to use substances to function daily, and the “buzz” you crave becomes secondary.


If you try and stop using substances, the withdrawal symptoms you experience can be extremely uncomfortable and even painful. As a result, you resume your substance use in order to avoid feeling withdrawals. This creates a vicious cycle of addiction that is extremely difficult to break. It is important to note that no one sets out to become an addict. Whether it is simple experimentation, peer pressure, or just plain curiosity, people from all walks of life can find themselves addicted to substances.


What Causes Addiction?

As stated, addiction is a complex and progressive condition. Because of that, there isn’t one overriding factor of what can cause addiction. The causes of drug addiction can be numerous, but there are some common factors that can make people more vulnerable in developing a substance abuse issue. It is important to note that the presence of these factors doesn’t mean that people will become addicted to drugs and alcohol. A variety of factors causes addiction, and each person is different in the factors that lead them to chronic substance abuse.


One of the most common causes for drug addiction are environmental factors. Common environmental factors of what causes addiction include the following:

  • Family history of drug abuse
  • Peer pressure
  • Poor academic or work achievement
  • Unstable and dysfunctional parenting
  • Financial stresses


Another factor that may cause addiction is genetics. While there is no “addiction gene” present in one’s DNA, there may be clusters of genes that may influence substance-taking behaviors. Also, a family history of mental illness may play a role in the development of substance abuse. For those with mental illness, using substances is a way to cope with their feelings.


Another one of the common causes of addiction is trauma. Past experiences that negatively impact people can take a toll on a person’s mental and emotional health. If not professionally addressed, past trauma can be a cause of drug addiction in addition to mental and emotional difficulties. Examples of traumatic life events include the following:

  • Physical, sexual, or verbal abuse.
  • Witnessing violence
  • Divorce
  • Surviving a natural disaster
  • Surviving a major or life-threatening accident
  • Death of a parent, loved one, or pet


What are the Symptoms of Drug and Alcohol Addiction?

The signs of symptoms of drug addiction can be seen in three different areas: physical, behavioral, and emotional. The following are common physical signs of addiction:

  • Full of unusual energy or extreme lethargy (depending on the drug used)
  • Dilated pupils, red eyes
  • Runny nose not related to cold or other illness
  • Looking pale
  • Undernourished
  • Significant weight loss
  • Change in eating habits
  • Lack of personal hygiene


The following are common behavioral signs of addiction:

  • Problems at work and school
  • Isolating from family and friends
  • Missing important functions
  • Increasingly secretive and discreet
  • Thoughts and conversations primarily about substance use


The following are common emotional signs of addiction:

  • Defensiveness regarding behavior
  • Increasingly irritable
  • Denial
  • Rationalization regarding substance use
  • Deflecting blame onto others when confronted about their substance use
  • Diverting to another subject when substance use is brought up


How to Find Treatment for Addiction

No matter the cause of drug addiction, its effects can be disastrous for your life and for those you love. If you are struggling with addiction, you need to seek professional help from a reputable drug treatment facility. Water Gap Wellness Center is a premier drug treatment facility that features evidence-based treatment programs, experienced and compassionate staff, and a safe and comfortable environment away from the triggers that keep you stuck in drug addiction.

We treat a wide variety of addiction and mental disorders using strict industry standards. No matter the severity of your addiction, our expert staff will create an individualized plan that perfectly fits your specific needs. Call Water Gap Wellness Center right now and begin your journey to recovery the right way.

About WGWC

Water Gap Wellness Center offers expert and compassionate treatment for mental health and substance abuse at our Pennsylvania facility, just outside New Jersey, a short drive from New York. Contact us to learn more about how we can help you today. 

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