What Drives Us To Addiction?
Anybody can suffer from addiction, be it to alcohol, drugs, or anything else. Addiction places no importance on age, race, or background – it can happen to anybody, and it’s on the rise. That’s what makes treating the illness both difficult and rewarding; every addict will have their own story to tell, their own reasons why they’ve fallen into hard times.
That being said, there are some recurring themes we hear again and again. While the details may differ from person to person, we can construct a web of stories to create an idea of what could drive a person to addiction.
As sad as may seem, it’s a sense of loneliness that many addicts talk of as contributing to their illness. While this might seem like something to work on, it’s difficult for an addict to see this problem – and in some cases, they’re not capable of making the jump to making the connections with other people they need to feel worthwhile and important, sans drink or drugs. Sometimes, a person can be in the middle of a party, be talking gregariously with everybody, yet still feel lonely. It’s a state of mind from which some people are predisposed.
To compensate for their feeling of loneliness, they fill in the hole with a substance that will help them to escape their troubles. They may feel more at ease with themselves once they have had a drink or done drugs, but it’s really just a mask – they’re covering up the problem when they actually should be addressing it.
Change of Fortunes
It doesn’t take much for a person to go, in their own mind, from hero to zero. Amidst an age of economic trouble and plenty of interpersonal issues, a person’s circumstances can change pretty suddenly. Getting laid off from a job, or divorced, or any other personal crisis can drive a person to use substances to help escape from their problems. You can never underestimate how a personal change of fortunes may affect a person. A study by the University of Miami has shown a link between the rise of alcoholism and an economic downturn, showing just how devastating the loss of employment can be.
Even subtle changes, such as children leaving home or retirement from a job, can lead to addiction, as the person who once had responsibilities adjusts to their new role.
A routine leading to addiction can sometimes be the most troublesome as it takes longer for the person to realize they are addicted, especially when it comes to alcohol. Drinking is a social part of our culture which many people partake in. So a person might not see anything wrong with enjoying a few drinks. However in some cases, these casual drinks can become more regular as time goes on. Soon, they may have an addiction to alcohol without even realizing it. This makes it difficult to detect and also difficult for friends and family to treat as this form of addiction is usually not as severe as what most people consider “addiction” to look like. Still, through habit they have become addicted – and need help treating it.
Environmental and Social Causes
It’s a complicated world we live in, one in which more and more is asked of us as individuals. It’s not uncommon for this pressure to negatively manifest itself in some way, be it mental health issues or over reliance on substances. These environmental causes are conditional, but sometimes unavoidable. A person with a high pressure job who needs to perform every day might find themselves self-prescribing medication just to make it through their work. Slowly but surely, they will become dependent on that medication. A third of South Africans are also suffering from some sort of mental illness, which they may try to treat – or rather, block out – with drink or drugs.
Similarly, social causes often contribute too. It’s not at all difficult for a person to fall into an environment where drink or drug abuse is normalized or even encouraged. In that world, it’s easier for people who are susceptible to addiction to form a habit that needs professional help to correct.
These are, of course, just a handful of the many number of reasons that addiction exists. Scientists are still figuring out exactly what causes it. In the meantime, help is available – nobody has to let their addiction rule their life.
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Article written by: Gemma Collins