Addiction is a chronic disease. What’s behind it? Why do some people drink alcohol socially, while others develop an alcohol use disorder? What causes addiction?
Addiction Is a Brain Disease
Addiction targets the brain’s reward center. The chemicals found in drugs gradually make changes to the way the brain releases neurotransmitters. As a result, you now need the drugs just to feel normal. Addiction treatment programs help to reverse this process, or at least assist you with working around it.
What Causes Addiction?
In the past, people thought that drug abusers were moral or social failures. However, science disproves this belief. Most importantly, it’s looking for reasons behind the development of chemical dependency.
Experts agree that dysfunctional stress responses are a significant contributor to substance abuse. You face situations that you can’t handle. You try to work things out, but you only experience frustration. After a while, you decide to relax with alcohol or other drugs to take the edge off.
Then there’s the risk of a co-occurring mental health disorder. You might struggle with anxiety, depression, or schizoaffective disorder. However, you never receive a diagnosis or get help for managing it. You reach for drugs or alcohol to self-medicate and make the symptoms go away.
Genetics can also play a role in the susceptibility to developing an addiction. While there’s not actually a gene that researchers can identify, they do see that substance abuse tendencies run in families. Similarly, there are environmental factors. If you are part of a demographic where drug use is acceptable, you’re more likely to start using, too.
Rehab is the Antidote to Chemical Dependency
You can’t overcome substance abuse with willpower. If it were possible, countless people would have already stopped – including you. Dependency inevitably leads to a compulsive need to use. Therefore, you’ll keep using even though you don’t want to.
Rehab can help you stop this destructive behavior. It can’t undo what causes addiction. However, it can give you ways to handle stressors and triggers. Examples of treatments include:
- Group therapy as a way to work with peers in recovery to learn more about addiction and receive positive feedback
- Individual counseling, which encourages you to dig deep and uncover what made you susceptible to drug use
- Family counseling as a way to get your partner on board with your desire to start recovery
- Life skills training that helps with coping strategy development as well as social skills
Finish Treatment with Structured Sober Living
Once you finish treatment, it’s time to plan for your transition home. Sober living is the ideal in-between step. It gives you the safety net you need to prevent early relapse. At the same time, it provides you with support to find work, join a support group, and find a sponsor.