Why do people get addicted?
If you care about someone who is alcohol dependent, addicted to drugs or who has any other addictive conditions, including eating disorders, you may be baffled as to why they are as they are. What is it about them that means they have got to this state? Why do people get addicted? And why can they not, perhaps like you, enjoy an indulgence now and again but know when to stop?
Why do people get addicted?
There may be a number of reasons for this. Some people have a personality trait for which alcohol or drugs (including mood altering medication such as diazepam, co codamol etc) seem to provide a solution. So they may be nervous in social situations, get easily anxious. Or stressed, lack confidence, have low self worth, frequently feel low in mood etc. When they have a drink, drug or pill, these feelings dissipate. So they tend to have a drink or drug whenever they feel these feelings. This might be occasional at first. But as the habit continues it will become more frequent. And their tolerance will increase. Meaning that more and more will be required to produce the same effect. And then the need becomes more frequent. Leading to it being a habit and eventually a full blown dependency, which is destructive.
Other people do not have any such personality trait. But have some sort of traumatic experience in their life which leads to them using alcohol and drugs (mood altering substances) to escape from their memories, feelings and emotions. For example, they may have had an abusive childhood, been sexually assaulted, had a significant and possibly unexpected loss of someone close to them (through death or relationship break up). Alcohol or drugs take these feelings away. Sometimes, the individual will come to terms with the situation and then stop using addictive substances – this may involve trauma or grief therapy. The period of heavy drinking or use of drugs or addictive medicine may naturally come to an end. If it does not, they will develop an addiction.
Addiction is treatable
Addiction can also run in families / be genetic. Whether it is due to personality traits such as anxiety and depression and other metal health disorders running through the family, or whether it is because of poor learned behaviour from upbringing, it is not uncommon for addiction to pass down from parent(s) to child (ren) and through the generations.
This is not to say that everyone with anxiety, stress, lack of confidence and low self worth will become alcoholics and addicts. Nor is it to say that all those experiencing traumatic life events will become addicted, nor that every member of a family with addiction history will follow the same path. It just helps explain why some people are more likely to become addicted than others.
There is a solution. Alcohol and drug rehab treatment help those affected by certain personality traits, or who have had a traumatic experience, or who have a family experience of addiction, to recover. There is hope. All that is required is a desire to get well and to work hard to achieve this. We call it ‘go to any lengths’. If the alcoholic or addict wants to recover from their addiction, then they can.