There is no one reason why every individual begins abusing drugs or why certain people become addicted while others don’t, just like there is no one treatment that helps every addict quit. However, if you begin to understand the possible reasons why drug abuse occurs and why it becomes an addiction, you can discover which ones apply to you, allowing you find the best way to quit. Recovery is a personal journey of self-discovery, and this type of thinking will help you stop abusing drugs and start on the path to a better life.
What Causes Drug Addiction?
According to the National Library of Medicine, “The exact cause of substance use disorder is not known.” Like many other chronic diseases and mental and physical health problems, drug addiction cannot be traced to one single imbalance or affected area. The debate has continued for years about whether or not addiction should be classified as a disease or a voluntary behavior, and science says some of both are likely at play. But since there is no way to know for sure why addiction occurs in a person’s brain, it is important to consider the risk factors that have been known to be associated with addiction and to ask yourself if these may have been part of the overall spiral addiction has likely caused in your life.
Risk Factors Associated with Addiction
Because there is no way of knowing who will fall prey to addiction after abusing drugs and who will not, it is important to understand the risk factors associated with addictive behavior. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “Risk for addiction is influenced by a combination of factors that include individual biology, social environment, and age or stage of development. The more risk factors an individual has, the greater the chance that taking drugs can lead to addiction.”
The common risk factors associated with addiction are:
- Environmental, including:
o Pressure/influence from family and friends
o Socioeconomic status
o Quality of life
o Physical and sexual abuse
o Availability of substances
- Biological, including:
o Mental disorders
o Addiction in family
o Aggressive behavior
- Developmental, including:
o Early drug use
o Lack of supervision
A person who has a number of these risk factors in their past or present is more pre-determined toward the possibility of addiction. However, no one risk factor will cause addiction without a doubt, and some individuals who have these risk factors do manage to avoid becoming addicted. When you realize addiction has begun affecting your life, it is important to ask yourself these questions in order to begin to discover what factors may have influenced your drug abuse.
- Did I have an unhappy childhood?
- Do I often experience feelings of aggression, loneliness, sadness, stress or anger?
- Was I abused or hurt as a child or in my adult years?
- Did I go through a dramatic incident during my childhood or adult years?
- Do I have a history of addiction in my family?
- Did I begin abusing drugs at a young age?
- Have I struggled financially for most of my life?
- Have drugs been available to me or easily accessible for most of my life?
- Have I experienced pressure from others I cared about to abuse substances?
And the most important question:
- Do I believe these issues may have contributed to my drug abuse in some way?
It is likely that, if you feel that some issue has contributed to your drug abuse, it probably has. It is not often easy to admit what we may already know, but it can help make a big difference in allowing you to make a change for the better and quit abusing drugs.
Where Do I Go for Help?
If you think you may know some of the reasons why you began using drugs in the first place––and why you continue to abuse them now––you must consider seeking profession treatment. Although medication can be very beneficial in “suppressing withdrawal symptoms” and helping to “reestablish normal brain function,” behavioral therapy is the treatment approach that will most help you understand the reasons behind your drug abuse and how to make a change (NIDA).
Behavioral therapy can be found in many types of treatment programs, from outpatient and inpatient care centers to therapist’s offices and more. This treatment will help you discover the reasons behind your drug abuse and why those factors have affected your behavior. Knowing this will help you begin to change that behavior and live your life the way you have been wanting.
How Will Behavioral Therapy Help Me Change?
Behavioral therapy not only examines your behavior now but it also examines the changes you have been through and how they have affected you. For example, if you have been battling a mental disorder such as depression, anxiety disorders, or others, your therapist can help you come to terms with this issue and understand how it has likely affected your desire to abuse drugs. In addition, your therapist can treat your mental disorder while helping you learn better coping skills for your addictive behavior: this allows you to make real change because both issues are being treated together.
Associations with past trauma, feelings of stress and aggressive behavior, and even relationships with family and friends can all be treated and even improved through behavioral therapy, and other issues, like the availability of substances, can be recognized and dealt with to avoid further problems. Unfortunately, there are some issues that cannot be changed. If you are genetically more likely to experience addiction, you cannot change this fact, but you can accept it and make a conscious decision that you will not let this factor rule your life. Knowing why you abuse drugs will allow you to figure out how you can stop, with the help of your therapist, and this can become an innumerable gift toward your overall recovery.
Do You Want to Learn More About the Reasons People Abuse Drugs?
Or are you looking for a therapist or treatment center in your area where you can begin to learn about your own motivations and risk factors that may have helped lead you to abuse drugs? Call 800-654-0987 today and take the first step toward your recovery.