There is not a simple answer why some people become addicted and others don’t unfortunately. Addiction is a life-long and multifaceted disease that can affect someone at any point in their life. Everyone’s brain is different and will respond differently when an addictive substance is introduced.
Furthermore, over time and continued use, the substance actually changes the brain’s chemistry and the cell structure, particularly in the regions that control learning, decision-making, stress, memory, and judgment and behavior. This is the reason someone with an addiction can’t just “give it up” like someone without. Their brain has actually changed. These changes can happen quickly and at any time, which is why someone can become addicted at any point in their lives, without even realizing it.
Having said that, there are certain factors that appear to be important to why some people become addicted while other people do not.
Factors of Addiction
- Biology Many addictive predispositions, like gender or memory disorders are attributed to genetic components. Additionally, people with underlying psychiatric conditions are at greater risk of becoming addicted. Particularly people who are unaware of having a mental illness may begin using substances to self-medicate and alleviate their symptoms. While the offspring of people who have addiction often develop an addiction themselves, there is no one “addiction gene.”
- Social Environment Often times, addiction may occur within family groups because they all exist within a similar social environment. This factor includes the environment at home, at school or work. It includes one’s family and friends, as well as socio-economic status and general quality of life.
- Human Development Though people can become addicted at any age, younger people who use drugs or alcohol have a higher likelihood of developing an addiction. This is because the vulnerable parts of the brain are still developing, like those that control decision-making, judgment, and self-control.
- Trauma Going through a traumatic experience, like abuse, neglect, or losing a loved one early in life can make one easily susceptible to addiction.
When is it Time to go to Drug Treatment?
At the end of the day, most people go to drug treatment because they know they have to. They have tried to quit on their own and failed many times over. It’s not just a matter of willpower. When used on a daily basis, drugs such as opioids and alcohol cause profound changes in the brain. The brain can no longer function without the presence of the drug of choice. Withdrawal symptoms are painful. In the case of alcohol, withdrawal without medical intervention can kill. While opioid withdrawal isn’t typically life-threatening, still, it’s painful and distressing enough to force someone to use the opioid drug again just to get relief.
It’s easier to withdraw in a treatment facility. For one thing, you know you can’t get your drug there. You don’t obsess on it as much. Medical withdrawal treatment will keep you pretty comfortable. Everyone is different, but the drugs used to ease withdrawal almost always eliminate the worst symptoms. Some people find near complete relief. An alcoholic who has tried to withdraw alone before may attend drug treatment out of fear of death. They know that a treatment facility is the safest way to withdraw.
People make the decision to attend drug treatment for several different reasons, but anyone addicted to a drug has lost control of their lives. Some people seek to regain control. Others are seeking hope. Still others go to drug treatment because they are forced to, either by their life circumstances, family members or the courts. For most people, drug treatment is preferable to jail. Treatment should be sought with free will to be the most effective, but courts often force some people convicted of certain crimes to choose between jail and rehab. This is a controversial practice. It often fails because the person isn’t really ready to stop using their drug of choice.
Addiction Treatment in South Florida
Addiction is a biological chemical reaction that a person cannot control. It is not a moral failing or a lack of desire or effort. Fortunately, addiction is absolutely treatable and can be managed with support and counseling. If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, our counselors are available 24 hours a day to help you get treatment. Call 800-737-0933