What are the Causes of Addiction?

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What Causes Addiction?

What are the causes of addiction

Many people still find it difficult to understand why some individuals become addicted, is it something in the genes, a lack of willpower or moral fibre?

Research shows, that 7 % of American are addicted to prescription drugs, around 40 million addicted to cigarette, alcohol or drugs. Over 1.2 million people in the UK above the age of 18 are addicted to illegal drugs, and although drug addiction is not on the increase in the UK, the amount of people whose lives are affected by addiction are much higher than people generally imagine.

While we welcome the news that illegal drug use and addiction is not rising in the UK, the fact remains, addiction is still a major problem in our society, not only drugs, but there are a host of other addiction just as disturbing.

Although around 70 % of the British population will occasionally gamble, for many, this will become a problem. The number of problem gamblers in Britain is believed to be around 450,000. Gambling addiction experts warn of the danger of internet gambling, particularly among the youths.

With access to the internet 24/7, providing anonymity, unlimited social network, the lack of geographical boundaries, many have found this an ideal way to escape from emotional situations; only to find that they are unable to control their internet use, and have become addicted.

The question remains, what are the causes of addiction, and why do some people become addicted?

Why do some people seem to be more susceptible to addiction than others?

In my psychology placement, many years ago; I came face to face with addiction; I listened to the people who had become addicted to drugs and other habits, I listened as they discussed what they believed was the reason for their addiction.

I learned that addiction knows no boundaries, no race nor colour, it has no respect for class or culture, it is equally at home in any society, good homes and bad.

I recall the young boy who bought drugs for the first time from an unscrupulous dealer at his school gate. The young mother living in a high rise apartment, who took drugs at the insistent of her boyfriend. She held out, but finally succumbed. She took drugs initially to please her drug using partner, but continued as a means of escape, pretty soon she was forced to admit that she had become addicted to hard drugs.

I remember the middle age middle class woman, whose children had left home, her husband was seeing a younger woman, she was tired of pretending everything was rosy, and that she was not aware of her husband's cheating. She became depressed, began shoplifting as she tried unsuccessfully to adjust to a new way of life. However; without a house full of children and the onset of the menopause, she sank into depression. Soon she was dependent on the antidepressants the doctor had prescribed, and found that she had also become addicted to shoplifting although she had no need for the things she stole, and money was not a problem.

The wealthy thirty something man who made a fortune on the stock market and blew it all on coke which he first tried at a party. The police stopped him and the rest is history. I spoke to people who became addicted to over the counter painkillers, addicted to alcohol, shopping, gambling, food, sex and even love.

Approximately 11% of people, when asked, said that they knew a friend who had become addicted to drugs. About 6 % had a family member who is, or was addicted, and 2% had experienced drug dependency personally.

According to the BBC News Magazine ( April 2013). Afghanistan produces 90% of all opiate drugs in the world, but until recently was not considered to be a major consumer. However, currently, from a population of 35 million, over a million are addicted to drugs, this figure is proportionately, the highest in the world.

What Causes Addiction

A definition of addiction from Wikipedia states; “ Addiction is the continued use of a mood altering substance or behaviour despite adverse consequences, or a neurological impairment leading to such behaviours.” It goes on to explain; addiction can include, but are not limited to, drugs abuse, exercise addiction, food addiction, sexual addiction, computer addiction and gambling. I'm sure if we were to stop and think about it, we could all add something else to this list.

Addiction can include almost anything, from the consumption of drugs to something as abstract as using the internet or something that seems as harmless as chocolate.

Factors that influence addiction:

  • Changing brain pathways and Physical addiction

Addiction is complicated, it can be physical or psychological or behavioral, the experts suggests that there is a link between repeated use of an addictive substance and how our human brain experience pleasure. The addictive substances, whether drugs, alcohol or nicotine causes actual physical changes in some of the nerve cells in the brain known as neurons.

The neurons release neurotransmitters into the synapses, (the spaces between the cells) the neurotransmitters are taken up by receptors in other neurons or cells.

Neurotransmitter is a chemical which transmits neurological data between the cells. It acts as a messenger to transmit electrical impulses from one nerve cell to another.

Pain, pleasure, boredom, and other messages travel by neurotransmitter.

Addictive substances such as drugs and alcohol prevent appropriate neurotransmitter brain activity and also create brain activity that changes behaviour.

The principal neurotransmitter to affect addiction is dopamine which affects:

  • movement control

  • emotion,

  • pleasure

  • pain

Different drugs can stimulate or inhibit the brain's dopamine receptors, interfering with the neurotransmitters ability to function effectively.

When dopamine neurotransmitters are over stimulated, by drugs such as cocaine, the brain stops making dopamine, this is usually referred to as drug tolerance. When drug use ceases, it can take time before the situation is reversed, possibly weeks or months.

Different drugs have different connection between addiction and neurotransmitters, much too complicated to look at in depth in this article, which gives only an overview.

  • Environment

Environmental factors can be family's beliefs and attitudes, exposure to peer groups that may encourage the use of drugs or other addictive substances.

Genetics

Addiction is a disease characterized by certain changes in the brain. There is a network of nerve cells in the brain known as the reward pathway. The reward pathway drives the feelings of motivation, reward and behaviour.

Many experts believe that no single gene for addiction will be found and that integrated genes cause susceptibility to dependency. Our genes and inherited traits have some influence on how certain people develop habits and addiction, while others don't.

It can be harder for an individual with particular genes to stop a habit once started. For some individuals, the withdrawal symptoms they experience when attempting to kick the habit, can be more severe than it would be in others with similar drug use who are also trying to quit. this is due to the individual's inherited genes.

Genetics can also cause one person to feel sick after taking a particular substance, while others experience euphoria. However; because someone is prone to addiction, this doesn't necessarily mean that they will become addicted, but they should be aware of their susceptibility.



Addiction in the Family

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What's your addiction ?

Are you now or in the pass been addicted to any of the following?

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Addicted to LOVE
Addicted to LOVE

Signs and Symptoms of Substance Addiction


Substance Addiction

The signs and symptoms of substance dependence differs according to the individual's personality, the type of substances they are addicted to, their genetics, and personal circumstances. Most of these signs and symptoms can also have other explanations and therefore caution is needed.

  • Extreme mood changes
  • Sleeping a lot
  • Persistent coughs or sniffles
  • Secretive
  • Pupils of the eyes seems smaller or larger than usual
  • Withdrawal, Once substance use ceases, the levels of substances in the body drops below a certain point where physical and mood- related changes occur.These changes are unpleasant, and are often the opposite of the desired addicted effects. They may include, moodiness, poor focus, bad temper, depression, frustration, anger, and resentment.
  • Addiction persists despite ill health awareness.
  • Maintain good supply of substances to which they have become addicted.
  • Take risk
  • Obsession
  • Secretive
  • Denial
  • Excessive consumption
  • Relationship problems
  • Financial difficulties

As mentioned above, signs and symptoms may vary, this list does not contain every possible sign and symptom.

If you find the documentary video useful, see also:

http://guardian.co.uk/culture/2013/mar/09/russell-brand-life-without-drugs

Some Modern Human Addiction

Most of us think of addiction as substance related, drugs, alcohol or tobacco. However; recently, there have been more studies on what is referred to as behavioral addiction, characterized by an overwhelming need to engage in a particular behavior or action, despite knowing the negative consequences.

  • Laziness
  • Idolization
  • Being Cool
  • Technology
  • Internet
  • Shopping
  • Exercise
  • Cosmetic Surgery
  • Ice Chewing
  • Hair Pulling
  • tattoos
  • Workaholic
  • Caffeine
  • Negativity
  • Dieting
  • Body building
  • Tanning
  • Sex

The chemistry of addiction

Donatella Versace Tanorexia
Donatella Versace Tanorexia | Source

References

  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Addiction
  • http://nhs.uk/Livewell/addiction/Pages/gamblingaddiction.aspx
  • http://medicalnewstoday.com/info/addiction/what-causes-addiction.php
  • http://addictionz.com/addictions.html
  • http://learn.genetics.utah.edu/content/addiction/genetics
  • http://bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-22091005
  • http://guardian.co.uk/culture/2013/mar/09/russell-brand-life-without-drugs

More by this Author


49 comments

tobusiness profile image

tobusiness 3 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K Author

Lisa, thank you for stopping by, always a pleasure to see you. I think that one of the hardest thing to handle, for someone who is trying to give up alcohol, is socializing. When everyone is drinking it must be difficult trying to abstain from drinking yourself, and as you so rightly said, people don't always understand. Try referring your well meaning friends to the research findings, it may help them to understand. Take care, good luck and my best to you.


Lisawilliamsj profile image

Lisawilliamsj 3 years ago

This is a really interesting article! I know that recently, I have had many people ask me why I am trying not too drink. They do not understand that some people are addicted and at time one more is never enough. I think I may just have to show them this article! Thank you for sharing I voted up!


tobusiness profile image

tobusiness 3 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K Author

Hi Chris, I'm afraid we all have our poison, some are more devastating than others. Thank you for stopping by and for the insightful comment, good luck with your recovery, my best to you.


cam8510 profile image

cam8510 3 years ago from Columbus, Georgia until the end of November 2016.

Jo, this is excellent information. As a recovering alcoholic, I can appreciate the depth of information here. Many do not realize that what they are experiencing is addiction. This article has the ability to help people become more aware.


tobusiness profile image

tobusiness 3 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K Author

Devika, thank you for stopping by, always appreciated.


DDE profile image

DDE 3 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

What are the Causes of Addiction? Interesting facts and so useful to many readers about the causes of addictions. Definitely a helpful hub. Voted up, useful and interesting


tobusiness profile image

tobusiness 3 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K Author

Hi Audrey, so nice to see you! Thanks for stopping by, funnily enough, I just saw your profile image on the hub feed and thought I must Pay Audrey a visit to read some quality poems, as i'm in need of inspiration, and I found this. Much appreciated, I'll be over to you soon.


AudreyHowitt profile image

AudreyHowitt 3 years ago from California

Such a comprehensive piece Jo!


tobusiness profile image

tobusiness 3 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K Author

Hi Theresa, I've posted a hub specifically on alcohol abuse a couple of days age, successful strategies to break addiction sounds like a great idea for the next one. Thank you for taking a look at this, always appreciated.

Take care and my best to you. I'll be round for a visit later.


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

Hi Jo - What an excellent and well developed Hub. Most of us see the results of addiction in others and ourselves, but seldom do we really understand what is going on in terms of a neurological, biological or environmental level. Great information.

Have you already done a Hub on the most successful strategies to break addiction? Or is that next? Great hub. Hope your summer is going well. Sharing. Theresa


tobusiness profile image

tobusiness 3 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K Author

Hi Shanmarie, always a pleasure to see you....thank you so much for taking the time to stop and comment. You're so right, even the positive things can be addictive; we can have too much of a good thing :). Take care now, and my best to you.


shanmarie profile image

shanmarie 3 years ago from Texas

A lot of insight and information you provide here. I remember reading this, but it was in my email notifications as unread. I even thought I commented, but I guess not. . .Anyway, very interesting perspective on addiction you provide. Even "positive" things can be addictive.


tobusiness profile image

tobusiness 3 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K Author

Hi Starbright, yes, addiction is a very sad and often deadly condition, it is also very complex. However, it is treatable, you are right, to treat addiction one must get to the root of the problem.

Thank you so much for the visit and comment, much appreciated and my best to you.


starbright profile image

starbright 3 years ago from Scandinavia

It's very sad for everyone concerned. There are so many aspects to this type of problem, but as Vinaya says - going into the root of the problem is to my way of thinking the only way to avoid fatal outcomes. Thanks so much for sharing.


tobusiness profile image

tobusiness 3 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K Author

Vinaya, thank you so much for the visit and comment...it is a sad thing to lose someone so young, through addiction. So much potential wasted; I can't begin to imagine the pain felt by the family and friends, life can be cruel at times.

Take care and my best to you.


Vinaya Ghimire profile image

Vinaya Ghimire 3 years ago from Nepal

When I was in highschool, I had a drug addict friend. He died of drug overdose. I have seen many teen spoil their life because of addiction.

Thanks for sharing this informative article. When we know the causes,we can go into the root of the problem.


tobusiness profile image

tobusiness 3 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K Author

Hi Rebecca, so very nice to see you!...congrats on giving up the habit, I know many people who just can't do it. Someone I know, much younger than myself, has been told that he is now in the terminal stage of lung cancer, the saddest thing is, he is still smoking. There are 4,000 chemicals in each and every cigarette we inhale into our bodies and then, there is the addictive nicotine. I'm lucky; I never succumbed, but I do have respect for those like yourself who have given it up. My best to you, thanks for stopping by and for the insightful comment, much appreciated.


tobusiness profile image

tobusiness 3 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K Author

Mighty mom, many thanks for the visit and this insightful comment...you're right, addiction is indeed complex. The ability to give it up depends on so many variables; however, if the causes or the reason an individual's habit becomes an addiction can be identified, there's a better chance of treating the problem, always assuming that they can admit that they have a problem. Thanks again for stopping by, have a wonderful weekend.


tobusiness profile image

tobusiness 3 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K Author

Hi Nell, I hope you're enjoying a great week end!...thank you for taking a look at this. Addiction affects a lot of people in more ways than one. But even when it runs in the family, it still depends on many other factors coming together at the right time, or I should say the wrong time. I'm so glad you found this useful....appreciate the visit and comment.


rebeccamealey profile image

rebeccamealey 3 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

You did an amazing job on this. I stopped smoking about 5 years ago after quite a while. It was very hard, so I can only imagine something worse! Thanks!


Mighty Mom profile image

Mighty Mom 3 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA

You've bravely tackled the $64 million question and provided excellent background on the many different substances and behaviors people can be addicted to these days. I believe there will always be differing opinions on what causes some people to cross that invisible line from use to abuse to full-blow addiction. It's complex but definitely has a highly emotional component. The key, I think, is that the addict continues to put in or engage in the behavior despite negative consequences. S/he may sincerely want to quit, but once the addiction is activated, that is hard, hard to do without help.

On the positive side, ALL addictions are treatable and can be overcome!!

Here's to recognizing the signs and getting that help for our loved ones or ourselves.

Thanks again for an excellent hub. MM


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 3 years ago from England

What a great and informative hub! We all know people who are addicted to something, but I never knew the science behind it, it totally makes sense now, and of course the genetics that run in the family does seem to be how I see it with a friend of mine, amazing article and voted and shared! nell


tobusiness profile image

tobusiness 3 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K Author

Lurana, lovely to see you, thanks for stopping by, my very best to you.


MrsBrownsParlour profile image

MrsBrownsParlour 3 years ago from Chicagoland, Illinois

Important topic and you covered it so well! Very informative and interesting. ~Lurana


tobusiness profile image

tobusiness 3 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K Author

Hello Marion, nice to see you!...You have summed it up very well. Addiction can be totally destructive, hard to break away from, even when one manages to break free, the temptation is always there, it is always a struggle.Thank you so much for stopping by and for the insightful comment, much appreciated.

My best to you.


tobusiness profile image

tobusiness 3 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K Author

Hi Michelle, yes, we all love being in our comfort zone, we are, all of us, creatures of habit, but some of us can take it too far, that is when it become a problem.

Nice to see you, always a pleasure.


tobusiness profile image

tobusiness 3 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K Author

Aplethora23, thank you for the comment, vote and visit, much appreciated. I'm so glad you found this hub useful, good luck with the recovery, my very best to you.


Aplethora23 profile image

Aplethora23 3 years ago from North Cali

Awesome Hub. Great pictures. Thank you for posting this. I am also in recovery and I found this to be a good read. Voted up.


midget38 profile image

midget38 3 years ago from Singapore

I agree with one of the comments here...it's often a result of being in comfort zones! Thanks for this...we have to get used to change to come out of addiction!


marion langley profile image

marion langley 3 years ago from The Study

Agree! It does start in the mind....a fantasy of escape and success in avoidance of something you are unwilling to suffer through. The failure of meeting that challenge continually cycles guilt and fear that makes the fantasy that more appealling. Restraint and Responcibility people...the suffering is worth it to remain free!


tobusiness profile image

tobusiness 3 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K Author

Hello Marguarite, sounds like an interesting experiment. We do like to remain in our comfort zone. I'm very sorry about your father and your current situation, unfortunately; alcoholism is a seriously devastating illness, with long lasting effects and consequences, not only for the person who is addicted, but for the whole family. However; there is always hope. People do recover, with help and a lot of love. I feel for you, and I'm very touched by your frank, insightful and honest comment.

I recommend that you take a look at some of Billybuc's hubs on his struggles with addiction, he is a great example of triumph over adversity.

Thank you for reading this, I hope it helps. My very best to you.

Jo


tobusiness profile image

tobusiness 3 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K Author

Peachpurple, thank you so much for stopping by and for the nice comment, much appreciated.

I suppose, we all have our poison, things we turn to for comfort, but moderation is the key word. Easy on the chocs and coffee, although, I wish I could take my own advice. :)

Take care and my best to you.


marguarite profile image

marguarite 3 years ago

Creatures of Habit. It seems this is the root of our problem. I test my students every year. I watch where they sit and then day after day how they will choose the same seat. Then I will ask them why they sat there.Our experiment is to sit in a different seat every day. To sit on a different seat on the bus. To sit at a different seat at the table. Then, to note their observations, some will feel relieved and others a little stress at the constant change. We will feel comfort in what we know. I am a child of an alcoholic father and I am reliving the nightmare every day with my husband. I am educated well read, and still I could not change it, or avoid it. I stayed single for soooooo long, ended many relationships for fear of settling with someone with an addiction, and here I am again. Thanks for the post, it does bring some light into my life, not feeling very hopeful of my vicious circle.


peachpurple profile image

peachpurple 3 years ago from Home Sweet Home

Good hub. I am addicted to chocolates and coffee. I go crazy when i see them in hypermarket. Right now, i am crazy in hub hopping. These craze will cut down when I am busy with kids. Just had to give up sometimes. Voted up


tobusiness profile image

tobusiness 3 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K Author

Hi Doc, I am so very touched by your kind and insightful comment; great feedback like this makes it all worth while. Addiction is so misunderstood, when we think addiction, we envisage some poor unfortunate sleeping rough on the street, but addiction is so much more, and in many cases, closer to home than we'd like to think. Thank you for stopping by massively appreciated and my best to you


tobusiness profile image

tobusiness 3 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K Author

Hi Rajan, I responded to your wonderful comment a few hours ago, but it seem to have evaporated :), so once again, thank you for the visit, comment and the share, always appreciated.

My best to you.


tobusiness profile image

tobusiness 3 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K Author

Martin, thank you, very much appreciated.

My best.


Mhatter99 profile image

Mhatter99 3 years ago from San Francisco

Very informative. thank you


Docmo profile image

Docmo 3 years ago from UK

This a truly wonderful essay on addictive behaviour- you've comprehensively covered the roots of addiction and the physiology underpinning it. Yet you do so with a jargon free, easily understandable style that will make every reader aware of the problems. The key message that addiction goes far and beyond just drugs is an important one - Brilliant!


tobusiness profile image

tobusiness 3 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K Author

Hi Kashmir, thank you so much for stopping by, for the lovely comment and the share, always appreciated.

Take care and my best to you.


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 3 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

Jo, this is a very comprehensive info on addiction causes.I didn't know heredity had a role to play in it too. It has to be realised that not only substance addiction but any compulsive behavior is an addiction.

Voted up and useful. Shared.


kashmir56 profile image

kashmir56 3 years ago from Massachusetts

Hi my friend, you explained addiction very well so it made it very easy to read and understand. Well done !

Vote up and more !!! Sharing !


wetnosedogs profile image

wetnosedogs 3 years ago from Alabama

Superb hub. I must be addicted to chocolate cause if any snack or dessert isn't chocolate, I will pass it up.

I have another addiction, but I will pass on mentioning it. I hate it, but still. Quit for two years and back at it and just do without much thinking.

I hate that I'm addicted.


tobusiness profile image

tobusiness 3 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K Author

Hi Bill, you saw right through me :)..... I could have concentrated on drugs and alcohol addiction, but I wanted to show that most of us are addicted to one thing or another. The young women who can't stop having cosmetic surgery, those who wants to be the slimmest of them all, even when they are clearly killing themselves. When more people understand that addiction is a disease, it's nothing to do with being weak maybe we'll begin to understand. Thank you for taking a look, I especially appreciate your input.

Take care and my very best to you as always.


billybuc profile image

billybuc 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

Awww, you wrote a hub about me. How nice of you, Jo. :)

Fact is that you have done an excellent job of trying to explain addiction. For many it is impossible to understand....for those who are addicted, it is very easy to understand. :)

Thank you for shedding light on this very important and sometimes deadly affliction.

blessings always

bill


tobusiness profile image

tobusiness 3 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K Author

Hi Frank, If you can't leave it alone, if you can't function without it, if it's taking over your life; it's an addiction. Sex is natural but you can have too much of a good thing. :))

Always appreciated, and my best to you.


tobusiness profile image

tobusiness 3 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K Author

Hi Faith, you're right of course, addiction is a disease, and like any other disease, the more we understand it the better we can manage and maybe even cure it. It is quite an achievement to stop the habit and to remain alcohol free for 6 year, this takes strength and determination. My best to you son.

Pornography is another addiction relating to the internet which, as you rightly said, is causing much misery in families. The list is long.

Thank you so much for the brilliant and insightful comment, the visit, support and the share. Always appreciated, take care and my very best to you and yours.

Love Jo.


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 3 years ago from Shelton

what a eye-opening hub.. I guess you really never realize you're addicted until you are told... Psychological denial.. but damn that last photo of that brown bag of bones should have been told.. my goodness.. but nonetheless that's an addiction too.. The one addiction I have a hard time buying is Sex.. we copulate to populate.. but when you go beyond that reason it really shouldn't be a sex addiction.. more than that it's a perversion addiction.. right? I dunno...sex is enjoyable and reduces stress but when you take it beyond that it becomes a pervversion..but hey im not a doctor


Faith Reaper profile image

Faith Reaper 3 years ago from southern USA

Wow Jo, this is a comprehensive look at the disease of addiction here. We do indeed live in an addicted world. My son suffers from the disease of addiction to alcohol, but praise God and through much prayer, he turned his life around at an early age of 19 prior to his children being born! He must attend AA meetings to remain sober and he has been so going on six years now. We think that our family may have the gene that was passed down from my father, who was an alcoholic.

It is a terrible, terrible disease.

Another addiction that is so very troublesome here in the US and maybe around the world is pornography. Men at a very young age are getting addicted to it, which is so dangerous and has caused much problems in families staying together, as the men get a false idea of what a woman is supposed to be like. It can also lead to crimes against women. They said that the serial killer, Ted Bundy, started looking at pornography at a very young age, and then it escalated in other horrors, which many men in prison for crimes against women, all say the started looking at pornography at a very early age.

Excellent hub here my friend. Yikes on that last image there! I am addicted to chocolate : ) I am glad you did state that it is a disease, as that is truly the case, as my family learned through Bradford.

Voted up ++++ and sharing

Blessings, Faith Reaper

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