Addiction

Compulsive use of a substance known by the user to be harmful

Addiction

Addiction has affected millions of people for many generations. When we think of addiction, we usually think about drug addiction. However, there are many other things we can get addicted to, like social media and gambling.

What else can we get addicted to? What causes addiction? Can we treat it? We’re here to answer those questions and more here.

Type of Addictions

When we talk about addiction, we tend to think about drug or alcohol addiction. While those two are the most common, those aren’t the only addictions. Other addictions are-

  • Television
  • Social media
  • Exercise
  • Shopping
  • Gambling
  • Gaming
  • And more

Addiction is a slippery slope. When we first use or do something, our brain releases dopamine as a reward. This reward causes cravings, the first sign of addiction. When we continue to use or do something, we eventually tolerate it, which produces less dopamine. That means we’ll have to use or do more to get that high.

We lose interest in what we used to love because those interests don’t release as much dopamine as what we’re addicted to. Eventually, we lose control. This results in job loss, relationship problems, health issues, and more.

There are two types of addictions- chemical addiction and behavioral addiction. Chemical addiction refers to the usage of substances like drugs and alcohol, while behavioral addiction refers to compulsive behaviors that we carry out even if there is no benefit.

What Causes Addiction?

Many factors cause addiction, but the main three we’ll be looking at are genetics, mental health disorders, and environmental factors.

Genetics are traits passed down from parents to children, accounting for around 40 to 60% of our risk of addiction. Addiction is considered moderate to high in heritability, meaning our genes can impact risks the closer the genetic relationship is. Some substances, like cannabis, have a higher genetic risk than others.

What is also genetic is a mental health disorder. Those with said disorders are more at risk for addiction than other populations. Mentally ill people tend to use drugs for self-medication to cope with their mental health issues. Those with anxiety, conduct, or mood disorders are twice as likely to deal with addiction.

Of course, genetics do not always play a role in addiction. The environment matters, too. Living in an unstable or abusive household makes us more likely to become addicted. Other environmental factors that may cause addiction include-

  • Peer pressure
  • Presence of drugs at home/school
  • Community attitude and influence
  • Poor academic achievements
  • Parental drug use and criminal activity
  • Trauma (abuse, witnessing violence, divorce, etc.)

Treatment

There are many ways to treat addiction and its root causes. Some of the most popular treatments are residential treatment centers and therapy. Most residential treatment centers offer psychotherapy and addiction counseling to help with recovery. There are also support groups where we can recover with others dealing with addiction.

In some cases, medication can prevent relapses for those dealing with substance abuse, but it’s typically used in combination with other methods.

There’s no one-size-fits-all method for treatment, so we must try some methods to see which ones will work best for us.