Why does one get addicted?

Addiction can be described as excessive indulgence in activities in a way that interferes with one’s social, interpersonal or occupational functioning.

Addiction is a relatively common problem in modern societies. It is roughly estimated that between 8-13% of people living in developed countries experience addiction in some form to food, video games, alcohol or recreational drugs. But why do some people get addicted and others don’t? what causes addiction? Have you have ever had this question “will I become addicted?”

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Here are the top five factors that put you at high risk of addictions.

Genetics

If your parents, grandparents, uncles or aunts had problems with alcohol or drug use, that increases your risk of becoming dependent by around 50%. Up to 60% of children born to alcohol-dependent parents, were observed to be alcohol dependent themselves.

Environment

Genetics aren’t everything though. The biggest contributor to one’s personality apart from genetics is the environment in which one grows up. Likes, dislikes, motivation, aims, and goals are all directly or indirectly derived from the influences of one’s social ecosystem. Peer pressure, lack of parental support and easy availability of drugs are some factors which may initiate drug-taking behaviour.

Your personality

Certain personality traits such as risk-taking, novelty-seeking, decreased harm avoidance and impulsivity put one at higher risk of developing addictive behaviours. Certain personality disorders such as a dissocial personality disorder put one at a higher risk of substance abuse. Personality also derives heavily from genetics and the environment.

Age of first use

Multiple studies have proven time and again that the earlier the onset of substance use, higher the risk of substance dependence. Lower the age of onset, higher the risk of co-morbid mental illnesses, especially depressive disorder and conduct disorder.

Other mental issues

Adolescent depression and disturbances in conduct go hand in hand. Children with autism, ADHD, learning and communication disorders have high rates of conduct disorder and depressive disorder. Among adults, drug use is common among those with anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, and depression.

A collection of biological and environmental factors puts one at risk at developing substance use problems. The biological process of addiction is discussed here.

The exposure and the slippery slope

A collection of the above factors may put one at greater risk of developing an addiction-related problem. When a person with a heightened risk starts indulging in addictive substances (cigarettes, cannabis, alcohol etc.) or in addictive behavior (gambling, compulsive masturbation etc) a never-ending cycle of pleasure-seeking or escape begins.

A larger amount of drug would be required to produce the desired effect once obtained by small doses (more cigarettes, more alcohol, more cannabis, more bets, etc). There may be an illusory sense of control at this point. As more and more time gets spent on procuring substances and staying intoxicated, daily life begins to suffer.

The brain and body become chemically dependent on some substances, thus making it very difficult to stay sober. The toxic effects of substances adversely affect physical and mental health. By this point, several people are aware but unable to kick their habits. A false sense of control may have an important role to play in preventing help-seeking behavior.

Stay safe, seek help early !