In order to increase the chances of successfully overcoming addiction and regaining a functioning life, it is necessary to get to the bottom of one’s addiction. If the underlying causes are not identified, the individual may become stagnant or bored and face a greater chance of relapse.
There is always a mixture of variables that create the addict. Below are the more common causes linked to addictive behavior.
- A co-existing mental health condition: Individuals with an undiagnosed mental health condition may self-medicate in order to reduce their symptoms of depression, anxiety or hyperactivity. This, over time, can cause a destructive habit to form—sometimes completely unintentionally. The dependency on a substance can then become psychological and/or physical, leading the user to suffer withdrawals when he or she misses the usual substance dose.
- Low self-esteem: Low self-esteem can sometimes be blamed for the beginnings of addiction, helping the addict with social situations and self-doubt due to the numbing of over active or negative thought processes when intoxicated.
- Environment: Those who are around others who abuse substances may believe dependency or self-medication to be a normal behavior.
- Genetics: Genetics are most definitely a factor to addiction predisposition, however almost never the sole reason. This is discussed in far more detail further in the “Addictive Personalities” article while mentioned in the section below.
Society’s Part in the Crime
Bruce Alexander, a 1970s addiction theorist famous for pioneering his findings in morphine and cocaine-addicted rats, presented a more progressive theory that addiction is mostly based on our immediate surroundings and environment. The theory is properly named Dislocation Theory and proposes that society is ultimately responsible for the addict. More explicitly, it is society that creates divides in wealth and opportunity, shuns those who are not functioning at the desired level, allows the taboo of addiction and continues to criminalize drug addicts.
Alexander argues the politics and laws of an individual country is in fact part or solely responsible for causing and maintaining sources of addiction and its rate of decline. Poverty, social demographic and the criminality of many substances involved in addiction, he argues, mean that the roots will never be dealt with for the majority of potential addicts until the right decisions are made in drug laws. He believes the decriminalization of addicts themselves, the lack of free support services, and essentially the broad legislation of substances, wherever piloted, actually prevents the phenomenon of addiction entirely. The current treatment of addiction can risk that many will fall through the gaps, making it harder to recover—a domino effect of loss that is perpetual when the addict is already failing to function as a full member of society.
Addiction Treatment and Hope – New Roots, New Shoots
Frontiers in Psychiatry’s “Addiction and Choice: Theory and New Data” also has new scientific methods to measure the previously harmful, reluctant or random, and even self-sabotaging behaviors in addiction cycles. While childhood trauma, environment, mental health, co-morbidity of other health issues and genetic predisposition to enhanced or depleted reward mechanisms in dopamine release all invariably play an influential part, the causes and roots that lie in the human condition expressed above can now be, according to Frontiers, scientifically measured.
Previously thought of as chaotic variables that contradicted our understanding of addiction, we can now combine this new knowledge and the wider accountability of society with tried and tested assessment and treatment options for those with addictive personalities. This continued work and greater understanding will, one day, ensure lifelong sobriety for all those who seek it.
Addiction Helper aims to act as a comprehensive resource that will offer links to national and private rehabilitation services and also as an accessible online tool that provides knowledge and links to the best research and data to help understand addiction, recognising its maladaptive patterns of behavior and then advising the extensive range of treatment options to best suit the individual.