Addiction is the opposite of serenity, causing turmoil and unrest. It can be difficult to watch if someone you care about is struggling with substance abuse. You can drive yourself crazy trying to figure out how it all began or, better yet, how to fix it. You might be wondering: What causes addiction in the first place? Is there a cure, or is it a lifelong problem?
Understanding the nature of substance abuse can help guide the healing process. When you understand why addictive behaviors occur, things stop being so mysterious. Instead of feeling hopeless, you’ll be shedding light on one of life’s most challenging obstacles.
Read on to learn the truth about what causes substance abuse disorder.
Different Types of Addiction
What causes addiction? There’s not a clear-cut answer. But understanding starts with realizing the different types of problems.
Addiction comes in many different forms and can be challenging to overcome. Perhaps the most well-known form of addiction is substance abuse, which refers to a dependence on drugs or alcohol addiction. This addiction can have serious consequences, including health problems, financial hardship, and relationship difficulties.
Another common form of addiction is gambling. Like substance abuse, gambling addiction can lead to economic ruin and social isolation. However, it can also cause physical problems, such as ulcers and anxiety.
Sex addiction is another problematic behavior that affects one’s personal life. Sometimes, it may lead to illegal activities, such as solicitation or sexual assault.
Finally, food addiction is a less recognized but harmful disorder. Those who suffer from food addiction often struggle with obesity and other health problems. While each type of addiction is unique, they all share one common trait: the inability to control one’s impulses.
What Are the Signs of Addiction?
Addiction is a severe problem with devastating consequences. The good news is that addiction is highly treatable, and recovery is possible.
However, addiction often goes unrecognized, making it difficult to get the help you need. If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, it’s essential to be aware of the signs.
One of the most common signs of addiction is changes in behavior. People addicted may start withdrawing from family and friends, stop participating in activities they once enjoyed, or become more secretive and reclusive. They may also begin to display risky behaviors, such as recklessness or aggression.
Another telltale sign of addiction is changing in appearance. People who are addicted may lose weight, look tired or run down, or have bruises or cuts on their bodies. They may also start to wear clothing that is inappropriate for the weather or hides their body.
If you suspect that you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, you must seek help. Many resources are available to those struggling, and treatment can make a big difference. With the proper support, people who are addicted can recover and lead healthy, happy lives.
Drug Addiction vs. Alcohol Addiction: Is There a Difference?
It’s often said that addiction is addiction, regardless of the substance involved. And while it’s true that the core principles of addiction are the same regardless of what you’re addicted to, there are some essential ways in which drug addiction and alcohol addiction differ.
For one thing, drugs tend to be much more addictive than alcohol. This is due to the fact that drugs cause a much more intense high than alcohol, which can lead to a rapid spiral into addiction.
In addition, drugs are typically much more damaging to the body than alcohol, leading to a host of health problems. However, alcohol abuse can also be life-threatening.
Legally, drug addiction is often considered a more serious problem than alcohol abuse. That’s because of the criminal element often associated with obtaining drugs. But whatever the differences may be, one thing is certain: addiction is a serious disease that requires professional treatment.
Alcohol abuse has short and long-term consequences. Consuming excessively can lead to slurred speech, impaired motor skills, and dangerous blackouts.
In the long term, heavy drinking can increase the risk of developing cancers of the mouth, throat, and esophagus. It can also damage the liver, leading to conditions such as Cirrhosis.
There’s also the risk of exacerbating signs of depression through drinking. Alcohol is a depressant, so it can amplify feelings of sadness, loneliness, and hopelessness. This can lead to dangerous behaviors like self-harm or suicide.
What Causes Addiction?
Now that you know more about the different types of addiction let’s explore how it all begins. No one plans on becoming addicted. It’s a non-discriminating problem that affects people from all walks of life.
But how does it start? When does someone go from using a substance to abusing it? The story can be different for everyone.
Often, addiction begins with what’s called “recreational use.” This means using a substance for fun or because it makes you feel good. It’s not something you feel like you need to do to get through the day.
For some people, recreational use can turn into abuse. This is when you start using more of the substance than intended, despite the consequences. When this happens, it can be difficult to control cravings and keep using them in moderation.
There are also cases of addiction or dependence starting in childhood. For instance, when juveniles start drinking alcohol, they’re more likely to deal with substance abuse problems. Continued abuse can lead to addiction.
Physical Elements of Addiction
Changes in the brain characterize the physical elements of addiction. These changes can be long-lasting and lead to drug-seeking behavior.
The most well-known change is tolerance. Tolerance occurs when a person needs to use more and more of a substance to get the same effect. People may take more doses of a drug with tolerance, or both more often.
Another change that occurs with chronic abuse is dependence. Dependence happens when a person’s body adapts to the presence of a substance and comes to rely on it.
If someone who is dependent on a substance suddenly stops taking it, they will experience withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal symptoms can range from mild (such as irritability) to severe (such as seizures).
Mental Elements of Addiction
The mental elements of addiction are characterized by changes in a person’s thinking and behavior. These changes can make it difficult for someone to control their drug use, even if they want to stop.
One change that occurs with chronic abuse is cravings. Cravings are intense urges to use a substance. They can be triggered by things that remind the person of their drug use, such as people, places, or situations.
Another change that occurs with chronic abuse is loss of control. This happens when a person can’t control how much or how often they use a substance. They may try to cut back or stop using but find it difficult or impossible to do so.
If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, there is help available. There are many treatment options available, and recovery is possible. Don’t give up hope; just reach out for help.
Going From Recreational Use to Abuse
So, what causes someone to move from recreational use to abuse and addiction? Many factors contribute, including:
Addiction can run in families, which suggests that there may be genetic factors. Our bodies have around 20,000 genes. Sometimes, children of addicts are more likely than the general population to become addicts.
However, that’s not always the case. It can be difficult to reliably use genetics to predict a possible addiction.
People who suffer from mental health disorders such as anxiety, depression, or both are more likely to turn to drugs or alcohol as a way of self-medicating. This is because substances can provide temporary relief from the symptoms of mental illness. But, they usually worsen mental health problems in the long run.
People who grow up in chaotic or abusive homes are more likely to develop addiction problems. This is because they may turn to drugs or alcohol to numb difficult emotions or memories.
Teens and young adults are especially susceptible to peer pressure. If their friends are using drugs or alcohol, they may feel pressure to do the same to fit in.
If substances are easily accessible, people are more likely to use them recreationally. For example, alcohol is legal and often available at social gatherings. This increases the chances that people will drink excessively and develop problematic drinking habits.
Is There a Cure for Addiction?
Now you know what causes addiction. Unfortunately, there is no cure, but people with addiction can learn to abstain from substances, cope with cravings, and avoid relapse with treatment.
There are people who care and understand what addiction is like. Detox To Rehab is here to help support recovery in every way possible.
If you think someone you love needs help or wants help for yourself, reach out and call (866) 578-7471 today. Please continue using our website as a free resource; remember, you’re not alone.