It can be difficult to fully understand how substance abuse develops, and why some individuals can use drugs and alcohol safely while others quickly develop life-altering addictive disorders. Because substance use disorders are so complex, many mistakenly believe that they can be attributed to weak morals or a lack of will-power. They might believe that anyone can decide to stop using drugs and drinking just as easily as anyone can decide to start. However, it is never simple. Individuals who suffer from diagnosable substance use disorders often have a wide range of contributing factors working against them. The development of the actual addiction will vary significantly on a person-to-person basis, yet there are generally many of the same underlying issues at play. For substance abuse to be successfully overcome, these contributing, underlying factors must be thoroughly uncovered and adequately addressed in an addiction treatment setting.
What is a Substance Use Disorder?
A substance use disorder is a chronic and relapsing brain disease, one that is characterized by obsessive, drug-seeking thoughts and compulsive, drug-using behaviors. Individuals that suffer from substance abuse will continue to use drugs and/or alcohol despite an accumulation of personal consequences. These consequences could include interpersonal issues (problems in relationships with family members and friends), financial issues, legal problems, persistent problems at work or school, and a general lack of motivation to complete basic tasks and fulfill personal obligations. While the initial decision to pick up chemical substances is a choice, over time the chemistry of the brain begins to change and chemical use is no longer voluntary. The changes that occur within the brain directly affect several crucial functions, like pleasure, reward, and motivation. This is why relapse is so common among men and women who suffer from substance abuse – even if they maintain sobriety for an extended period, they are likely to begin using chemical substances again if they do not maintain a structured program of recovery.
Common Causes of Substance Abuse
Some common causes of substance use disorders include the following:
- Genetics. Addiction is a hereditary disease, meaning that if there is a pattern of addiction in your immediate or extended family, there is a very good chance that you will develop a substance abuse disorder if you repeatedly abuse chemical substances of any kind. Genetic predisposition has been studied in-depth and remains one of the biggest risk factors when it comes to the development of substance abuse.
- Environmental factors. Individuals who grow up in low-income areas that are prone to gang violence and excessive drug use typically have a higher risk of abusing chemical substances, for example. If an individual grows up in an abusive household, he or she will be more inclined to reach towards chemical substances as a means of coping. In many cases, unhealthy environments contribute to the development of substance abuse.
- Chemical changes within the brain. Substances like drugs and alcohol alter the chemistry of the brain, making it impossible for individuals to experience things like pleasure unless they are intoxicated. These changes lead to the development of substance abuse and dependence over time.
- Pre-existing mental health conditions. In many cases, individuals who struggle with substance abuse simultaneously struggle with undiagnosed or untreated mental health concerns. To alleviate the symptoms of these conditions, many individuals begin abusing chemical substances in an attempt to self-medicate.
Evoke Wellness – Begin Your Journey of Healing
At Evoke Wellness, we offer in-depth substance abuse treatment in a safe and structured environment. We understand that contributing factors vary on a person-to-person basis and that because of this, the most effective treatment methods will depend heavily on each unique case. As soon as a client is admitted to our recovery program we conduct a personalized evaluation which helps us determine the root causes of the substance use disorder and helps us develop a highly personalized treatment plan. To learn more about our comprehensive and personalized recovery program or to begin your journey of healing, give us a call any time of the day or night – we are constantly available to help you in every way possible.