We dive into the underlying causes of addiction, what to know and how to be able to help someone in need.
Addiction is thought of as a secondary disease. It is thought of that way because most often it is secondary to something else. In other words, there is some other problem that addiction is covering. What inpatient treatment facilities find time and time again is that a person coming in with an addiction will be using drugs or alcohol as a way to cope. They drink or take drugs to help themselves get over certain problems. Let’s take a look at what is often seen as the underlying causes of addiction.
The vast majority of the country has had a drink in the past year. They are familiar with the effects of alcohol. When someone has a drink, it begins to change the nervous system typically within ten minutes of the first sip. That is one of the fastest impacts of most psychoactive substances. Alcohol also serves to relax a person, make them drowsy, forgetful, sometimes euphoric and makes it difficult for them to think. Take a moment and think about all of that. Alcohol works quickly, makes a person relax and forget. Those are some of the best ingredients of a coping skill.
Coping skills are thought of as deliberate actions taking by a person as a means to help reduce or manage stress. With what we know about drugs and alcohol, they change how a person thinks and feels. That is essentially the purpose of a coping skill. When a person is struggling with some underlying issue, they may stumble across the connection that when they drink or use, they feel better. Soon, they will be using substances more frequently. As tolerance increases, they will need to use more and more to get the same results. By this point, they will be deep into their addiction, and it will have taken on a life of its own. They will no longer be using substances to cope with an underlying issue; they will be using substances just to feed their addiction and fight off withdrawal.
Now, this led to people asking what causes people to start using drugs and alcohol in the first place? Research has begun to show a lot of the connections between underlying issues and substance abuse. There have been many connections found between stressful life circumstances and addiction. One of the biggest correlations that have been found is between substance abuse and stressful change. Loss can be one of the biggest triggers of substance abuse. Divorce, job loss, or loss of a home can easily lead someone down the road to addiction. A person will be looking to get out of their head a little bit, just get some relief from the pressure they are feeling. This starts out as just taking a couple extra pills, and lead to someone with a serious addiction to opioids.
There are also other long term problems that can lead to addiction as well. Mental illness has been highly correlated with substance abuse. Some of the more common mental illnesses are among the highest associated with addiction. This includes depression, anxiety disorders, and schizophrenia. Mental health concerns are some of the most common underlying conditions that lead to addiction. It makes sense also. Drugs and alcohol are psychoactive substances that change how a person thinks and feels. The work quickly and are often quite effective.
A person with depression may be struggling with the feelings and thoughts that come with that terrible mental illness, but drinking takes it all away. A person with depression often feels sad, hopeless, unable to do anything, and thinks very poorly about themselves as a result. They would welcome the relief. Unfortunately, the drinking becomes its own separate issue, as it crosses over to addiction. Soon they are drinking because the addiction is making them do it, even if they don’t want to do it anymore.
Stress and mental illness are not the only reasons that a person would turn to drugs or alcohol as a means to cope. A person who has been through a trauma may struggle with the aftermath. A trauma can mean many different things to each person, but it almost always involves a life-threatening situation. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can leave a person struggling with resolving the trauma. Traumatic events will sometimes leave scars that are invisible to the eye, but which nag and tear at the individual for a long time without intervention and treatment.
While there are many different reasons a person may turn to substances, there is hope. At an inpatient treatment unit, they are specially trained to understand a person who is addicted. They provide them with assessments and the appropriate treatment for the underlying causes of addiction. Inpatient rehab can give someone their best chance of getting off drugs or alcohol, and staying off them.
Addiction has many causes, but most of it comes from using substances as a means to cope. The people who are addicted are just trying to get by, and they need to be understood within that framework. Inpatient treatment can address all of these needs, and treat the whole problem, not just the addiction. When the underlying cause of addiction is treated inpatient, it gives the client the best chances to stay in recovery for the rest of their life.
Don’t hesitate to contact an addiction specialist to get some questions answered, help someone in need or any information related to addiction.