What Causes Addiction?

Written by Chloe Nicosia

Many people wonder what causes addiction in some men and women. Learn more from www.BetterAddictionCare.com

There are many reasons why people use drugs recreationally, and they can become psychologically and physically addicted to the substances they use. According to experts, what causes addiction is the link between the substance used and the feelings of pleasure that the brain experiences. When the reward center of the brain is positively affected by drugs, the user may want to continue using the drug to keep experiencing the pleasurable results.

Research has shown that neurons in the brain can be physically changed by the continued use of drugs, alcohol or nicotine. Eventually the brain will begin to get used to the presence of the drug and build up a tolerance to it. The user won’t feel the same effects from the drug as before, and he will have to start taking more of the drug to get the desired effects. This type of behavior often leads to addiction, and the addict may continue to use the drug to avoid withdrawal symptoms.

There are different types of addiction, such as:

  • A physical dependence on a substance where the addict will begin to get withdrawal symptoms if he tries to reduce or stop taking the substance.
  • There is also a behavioral addiction where the addict feels a strong compulsion to keep taking the substance regardless of the negative consequences it may bring. Behavioral addiction is difficult to stop for any length of time without professional help.

What is a substance abuse disorder? Substance abuse disorder, such as drug addiction or alcoholism, is a complex brain disorder. Once a person has a dependence on drugs or alcohol they can experience intense cravings for the substance, and exhibit compulsive behaviors to get the substance. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual on Mental Disorders-5 diagnoses substance abused disorder as a recurrent use of drugs or alcohol that creates significant functional and clinical impairment, affecting the addict physically, mentally and socially.

Mental health and substance abuse disorders often share underlying factors such as: genetic predispositions, changes in brain structure, and early abuse, trauma or stress. The National Institute on Drug Abuse has a list of the different types of addiction which include:

  1. Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) – ranging from various levels of drinking:
  • Moderate drinking
  • Binge drinking
  • Heavy drinking
  1. Tobacco use disorder
  2. Drug abuse disorder – with information on each type of drug and its effects.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services states that mental health problems can lead to substance abuse disorder. People who suffer with mental health disorders may use drugs or alcohol as a form of self-medication to escape from their emotional and psychological pain. Some of the mental health disorders associated with substance abuse disorder includes:

  • Bi-polar disorder
  • Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Schizophrenia
  • Anxiety disorder
  • Chronic depression
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Personality disorders

When considering “what is a substance abuse disorder” you begin to realize that many factors come into play. Some of the symptoms of substance abuse disorder are:

  1. Causing problems for your self that might occur through criminal activity, fighting, accidents
  2. Being secretive about your whereabouts and activities, withdrawing from family and friends
  3. Changes in sleeping and eating patterns
  4. Neglecting duties and responsibilities
  5. Changes in personality and attitude, lying and manipulation to get what you want
  6. A lack of motivation
  7. Anxiety, paranoia, anger, giddiness, violence
  8. A lack of grooming and personal hygiene, strange odors
  9. Slurred speech, impaired coordination, tremors
  10. Borrowing or stealing money to buy drugs or alcohol

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration recommends a comprehensive treatment plan for substance abuse disorder that includes:

  • Inpatient residential treatment
  • Intensive outpatient treatment
  • Case and care management
  • Partial hospitalization programs
  • Individual and group counseling
  • Medication
  • Peer support
  • 12-Step fellowship

A treatment plan should be uniquely designed to meet the problems and challenges of the individual patient and help answer the question of what causes addiction. The patient should commit to a comprehensive treatment program for a minimum of ninety days or more. The patient should continue with aftercare counseling and peer support after he leaves the rehab center. This protocol will address the different types of addiction and help the patient begin a new and healthier way of living.

We can help you with your search for rehab facilities. We know it is a lot to deal with, so we can help!


  1. https://www.samhsa.gov/disorders/substance-use
  2. https://www.mentalhealth.gov/what-to-look-for/substance-abuse/index.html
  3. https://www.samhsa.gov/treatment/substance-use-disorders