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Underlying Reasons of Addiction

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), approximately 27 million Americans, or 10.2% of the American population over the age of 12 reported using illicit drugs in 2014.

It is very difficult to pinpoint to only one factor as the cause of addiction. Genetics and environment are two major factors that play a big role on addiction. As a mental health therapist working with individuals struggling with addiction, I identified some common underlying factors that lead to addiction. As you are reading this blog, you will realize that the main goal is to alleviate pain and avoid difficult feelings.

  • Trauma: People who go through traumatic events are likely to use substances in order to alleviate the pain and to cope with the traumatic memory. Examples to trauma could be accidents, traumatic losses, injuries, being attacked, being assaulted, witnessing an accident.
  • Abuse (physical, sexual, emotional): People who are physically, sexually or emotionally abused in their childhood are at increased risk of addiction when they become adults.
  • Desire to “fit in”: Adolescents and people who feel rejected by their parents in their childhood may use substances as a tool to fit in and to gain acceptance. Some people use drugs to appear more confident and social in public.
  • Mental Health diagnosis: People who struggle with mood disorders or personality disorders may use depressants or stimulants as a way to regulate their emotions.
  • Pain: Heroin and painkillers belong to the same class of drugs: Opioids. Because it’s getting harder to get painkillers, people may turn to heroin because it is cheaper and easier to get.
  • Modeling: Children who observe their parents using drugs and alcohol are more likely to use them in the future. They learn that using substances is the only way to cope with difficulties.

If you or your loved one has any of these risk factors, they may be at risk for addiction.

-Ipek Aykol, LMFT 97315