The causes of drug and alcohol addiction are just as complex as the disease itself. There is no one set of rules that indicates why one person may become addicted and someone else won’t. For example, many people drink socially and never become addicted to alcohol. Other people take prescription painkillers and never abuse them. Then there are people who might experiment with illicit drugs and never develop an addiction.
While some people seem lucky to avoid substance abuse, not everyone is as fortunate. Biological and environmental factors can influence the development of addiction. Furthermore, it is not always a set of specific factors but more often a combination of both. In addition, biological factors can trigger environmental factors, or conversely, environmental factors can trigger biological factors.
Some of the more common factors that cause drug and alcohol addiction include:
#1. Traumatic Experiences
Experiencing trauma can cause the person to relive the experience over and over. In order to deal with traumatic memories or as a way to cope, some people may turn to drugs and alcohol as a form of self-medication. Common types of trauma are:
- Sexual Abuse
- Physical Abuse
- Child Neglect
- Child Abuse
- Military Conflicts
- Sexual Assault
- Physical Assault
#2. Peer Pressure
When you have friends who abuse drugs and alcohol, there is a high probability that they will pressure you to try drugs or drink. While the pressure may not be overt, the desire to fit in may be a motivating factor. Even though you may make excuses to avoid feeling pressured, eventually, the pressure can become too much, so you give in just this once. Sadly, “just this once” can be the start of wanting to use drugs or drink again.
#3. Family Environment
If you grew up in a home where substance abuse was present, it is common to assume that drinking or using drugs may seem like a normal behavior. With access to various substances, it can be equally enticing to want to try drugs or drink.
Other family environment factors also play a role, such as:
- Dysfunctional roles
- Parental neglect
#4. Extremely Stressful Situations
Being exposed to high levels of stress for continued periods could lead to using drugs and drinking as a coping mechanism. The euphoric effects of drug and alcohol act as a temporary relief from high-stress situations, and that feeling can turn into dependence which can lead to addiction.
#5. Mental Health Disorders
Different mental health disorders could lead someone to use drugs and drink. In some cases, they may be prescribed a prescription, like Xanax, and drink to enhance the drug’s effects. Or they could develop a tolerance to the medication and increase their dosage to compensate.
Alternatively, some people attempt to manage their mental health disorder on their own without professional help. So, they turn to different illicit substances and alcohol to self-medicate to control the symptoms of the mental health disorder.
Genetics can play a role in whether someone will develop an addiction to drugs and alcohol. For example, if you have parents, grandparents, or siblings that have addictive tendencies, chances are you could have addictive tendencies yourself. However, even if you have addictive tendencies, it does not mean you will always develop an addiction to drugs and alcohol. Other types of addictions could manifest, such as gambling, shopping, and eating disorders.
#7. Social Acceptance
People who have a hard time in social settings, or who suffer from social anxiety, may turn to drugs or alcohol to lower their inhibitions to fit in better. Additionally, when drugs and alcohol are being used in social settings, it is equally common to join with others to be more accepted by one’s peers. For example, when young adults are in college and living away from home, they will be presented with different situations that are often socially viewed as “rites of passage” that encourage experimentation with drugs, alcohol, and even sex.
#8. Rebellious Behavior
Teenagers and young adults can decide to use drugs or drink as a way to rebel against their parents and their parents’ views on drug abuse and drinking. Unfortunately, the continued use of drugs and alcohol while a teenager or young adult increases the risks of developing an addiction since the brain is not fully developed until around the age of 25.
Why It Is Essential to Address the Causes of Drug and Alcohol Addiction
Substance abuse is the accumulation of underlying causes of drug and alcohol addiction. It is crucial that these causes be identified and treated as part of a drug and alcohol rehab program. If they are overlooked or not fully uncovered, there is a higher probability of relapse later.
In addition, if someone is suffering from a co-occurring disorder – drug and alcohol addiction and a mental health disorder – both conditions have to be treated simultaneously. Otherwise, relapse is more likely to occur.
Comprehensive Drug and Alcohol Rehab in Pennsylvania
Overcoming substance abuse is a challenging and life-long process. When you want to get to the underlying causes of your addiction, DreamLife Recovery is here to help. We offer customized rehab programs in Pennsylvania to help you learn what caused your addiction.
We also treat co-occurring disorders and provide treatment options for your addiction and mental health disorder. Please feel free to call us at (844) 402-3592 with any questions or to start your drug and alcohol rehab program today!