Addiction is a complicated disease that can affect anybody, regardless of age, gender, education, or socioeconomic status. Despite a growing understanding of the disease, there are still dangerous and hurtful stigmas surrounding it. Addiction is not the result of a moral failing or weakness, and instead is the product of multiple factors that may be out of one’s control. Understanding the factors involved in addiction can create an honest understanding that creates a supportive, sympathetic approach to those suffering from it.
Some may realize their use of addictive substances has reached a dangerous level but find it difficult to stop using for a myriad of reasons. Others may not recognize the extent of their use due to other factors. Regardless of each individual’s situation, understanding the factors of addiction is necessary to garner the proper support to battle this difficult and destructive disease.
Environmental Factors of Addiction
Environment plays a large role in a person’s perspective and can be a driving force behind their attitude and use of addictive substances. Depending on the individual, the way in which their environment facilitates addiction will vary.
For some, environmental factors will be at play from birth. Living in a household where addictive substances are regularly used can inform how one perceives them, even painting them in a positive light or otherwise eschewing any discourse surrounding their negative impacts. This can make drugs or alcohol seem less dangerous than they actually are while normalizing their use in one’s mind.
Others will find that a stressful environment can also impact one’s use of addictive substances. Stressful home environments where one feels neglected, unsafe, or stressed through complicated relationships can also facilitate the use of addictive substances. It is common for a person to seek an outlet to release these stresses, leading to the use and abuse of drugs or alcohol.
These environmental factors can manifest at any point in life, with workplace environments and cultures also playing a role in the development of addiction. From toxic workplaces to common after-work outings at the bar being a cultural norm, these environments can reshape one’s attitude and relationship with addictive substances at any point in life. Exposure to this normalcy can lead an individual to either use addictive substances to placate the stresses of the workplace, or engage with these substances in a dangerous capacity without monitoring their use.
The Genetics of Addiction
Genetics also play an integral role in the development of addiction, with some individuals being predisposed to developing the disease. Having parents or grandparents who have suffered from the disease can cause an individual to be at a higher risk for abusing addictive substances themselves, requiring less of the substance before the brain develops a dependence on it. Talking with family members about any familial history with addiction can provide the necessary context for a person’s life and inform how they can approach detox and recovery for themselves.
Mental Health and Addiction
Mental health and addiction are intimately intertwined, with cases of mental health disorders commonly informing one’s decision to seek respite in addictive substances. Feelings of anxiety, depression, panic, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia can all beget the use of addictive substances, resulting in co-occurring disorders.
For some, drugs or alcohol can feel necessary to placate these feelings of anxiety or depression, and the use of addictive substances can be a fast-acting way to placate their minds. These feelings can be so intense in the present that one may feel compelled to engage with drugs or alcohol despite any future ramifications. Addiction always does damage to the mind, further exacerbating these feelings once one’s high or buzz subsides, causing a dangerous and cyclic pattern.
Addictive Substances and Trauma
Trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) also impact one’s use of addictive substances in a number of ways. Painful memories can be extremely difficult to navigate, and forcing the mind to shut down these memories can be an enticing thought. This sets a dangerous precedent where one feels that the use of these mind-altering substances is necessary to placate these memories and feelings associated, even if addictive substances do not truly address or help process these traumatic experiences.
Physical injury can also feel very limiting and can have a number of intense psychological effects. Scars serving as reminders of traumatic injuries can be difficult to emotionally process. Others may be prescribed addictive painkillers as a result of injury or surgical procedures. Even when used correctly, highly addictive opioid painkillers can be extremely destructive and cause an individual to seek street-level alternatives when their prescription has run out.
Addiction is a disease that can manifest in many ways, but one’s lack of willpower or resolve is rarely a contributing factor. Rather, one’s environment, unique life experiences, and even genetics can all inform the development of this dangerous disease, and there is nobody who is “immune” to it.
There is always help available to begin one’s recovery journey. It is never too late to pursue a life of sobriety and process one’s unique environments, stress, mental health disorders, or traumatic experiences to create a healthy, sober future.
Addiction has a myriad of sources, and finding the driving forces behind addiction and substance use is an integral part of the recovery process. At Pacific Sands Recovery Center, we understand the need to address your environment, mental and emotional health, and more to help you better understand your relationship with drugs and alcohol and create a recovery plan that is right for you. We can help you through your first step into detox through residential and outpatient care, adjusting your recovery program based on your unique needs and goals each step of the way. Recovery is a wholly transformational experience, not just addressing your use of drugs or alcohol, but helping you manage the influences in your life to maintain a healthy lifestyle. For more information on how we can help you, call to speak to us today at (714) 492-1119.