You and your friends have lived similar lives. You all have experimented with alcohol and drugs, but for some reason, your friends were able to leave all of that behind and you are struggling with addiction. This can lead you to wonder, why are you addicted?
Addiction is caused by several factors, including stress, depression, genetics, trauma, anxiety disorders, and other mental health challenges. A person can be genetically predisposed to addiction, finding themselves more likely to develop an addiction than someone else. This includes individuals who suffer from chronic stress and see abuse of substances as a way of dealing with their problems.
What Causes a Person to Become Addicted to a Substance?
There are a lot of reasons why people become addicted to things. Some have a genetic predisposition towards addictions. For example, researchers have identified genes contributing to a person’s susceptibility to alcoholism. However, scientists are still finding out how these genes interact. It is challenging to identify which individual will be more likely to develop alcohol abuse problems compared to others by simply looking at their genes.
Some people experience very traumatic events early in life. And this leads to them developing addictive behaviors further down the road. These include individuals who struggle with mental health issues, like anxiety or depression. These individuals can turn to alcohol or other substances as a form of self-medication. And some people simply enjoy getting high. They enjoy the ability to escape from reality using substances.
There are several factors at play. But one of the most prominent factors is how the brain reacts to dopamine release. Dopamine is the pleasure hormone. For many addicts, hedonic adaption means that their brain gets accustomed to the high they get from using drugs or alcohol, making it less enjoyable over time. In an attempt to constantly experience the same pleasure they had with the first high, a person starts to use more and more of an addictive substance until they develop a dependence on it.
Understanding the Pleasure Principle
Some people are highly sensitive to pleasure. They are referred to as HSP. HSP individuals actively seek positive stimuli, which makes them disposed to addiction at a higher rate than people who do not have these traits. HSP individuals can have difficulty differentiating between real-life rewards and imagined rewards. This leads to an increased reward-seeking behavior, which lays the groundwork for addiction.
High Risk for Addiction
Some people are considered at high risk for addiction. These individuals are more susceptible to addiction than others because of their genetics, poor social networks, trauma, or core mental illnesses. The vast majority of people who enter drug rehab programs are under 30. This means that individuals in this age group are at high risk for addiction.
How Drugs Affects a Person’s Brain
Addicts will continue to use a substance even though they know the substance is hurting them. This is because when you use drugs, you’re not just experiencing something on a physical level. It has a powerful effect on your mental state. Drugs drastically change the way that your brain works. Neurotransmitters, like serotonin and dopamine, are affected. These chemicals regulate motivation, mood, memory, and attention.
Substance use causes a surge of these neurotransmitters in your brain, especially in the brain’s reward center. This makes you crave the substance even more. With time, your brain changes how it functions, reducing the ability of neurons in your brain’s reward center to react.
As a result, addicts feel less pleasure in life than before using drugs. Eventually, using drugs goes from being something that gets a person high to just making them feel anything at all. Long-term drug use can affect other brain parts, impacting decision-making, judgment, behavior, and stress management.
Why Doesn’t Everyone Who Uses Drugs Become Addicted to Them?
It is not clear why some people develop addictions and others do not. Likely, it has a lot to do with the way that the brain processes reward and punishment as well as processing the difference between liking something and wanting something.
Regardless of why addiction forms, its impact on a person’s life is powerful. If you or someone you love is battling addiction, we want to help. Contact us today at 833-846-5669 to learn how.