Addiction is a complex and difficult subject to tackle. It can cause significant distress, harm those close to the addict, ruin lives, and even kill.
But if everyone knows how terrible addiction can be, why do so many fall victim to it? And is there any real way out? This is how experts reveal 4 reasons why we become addicted and 3 ways to break an addiction.
4 reasons why someone could get addicted
Experts share the causes of addiction.
1. Dependence on recipes
One of the most common causes of substance abuse is a bit surprising: overprescribing. In the United States, many people become overly dependent on their recipes, which makes them feel like they need those recipes to survive. This is, according to Brenda Munnerlyn, Registered Nurse.
While doctors lose their licenses because they over-medicate their patients, the patients themselves often engage in dangerous behavior as well. They may lie about the conditions in order to receive more prescriptions, take medication from others, or even turn to street drugs to access more and more.
Worse still, taking too many of these types of drugs causes the body to develop a tolerance to them, resulting in the need for ever higher doses. It is a dangerous spiral.
If your parents were addicted or easily turned addicted to things, there is a possibility that you inherit that trend. A significant number of children of addicts become dependent on similar addictions, Munnerlyn says.
Worse still, many genetics addicts will be able to engage in more extreme addictive behaviors due to increased tolerance, which means they can unknowingly put themselves in danger. It may also be easier for them to become addicted to substances.
3. Poor mental health
A poor state of mind can contribute to a desire to use addiction as a coping mechanism, Munnerlyn says. Here are some ways this can happen:
· Mental illness
For many, having a pre-existing mental disorder, such as OCD, anxiety, or depression, can be a catalyst for addiction. Mismanagement of disorders is the key reason this can happen.
With all of life’s stressors, certain addictive substances can have a calming or distracting effect, allowing you to set aside or de-stress.
Someone with unresolved and unaddressed trauma may be more susceptible to triggers that cause them to turn to addictive habits to cope with it. Repressed trauma can also cause someone to unknowingly seek out unhealthy coping mechanisms.
4. Brain adaptation
When you repeatedly engage in addictive habits, your brain begins to change and adapt, trying to balance the surges in dopamine with the levels of substances it is used to receiving. This results in a decrease in dopamine production or a decrease in total dopamine receptors, says the University of Texas professor of neuroscience. Dr. Hitoshi Morikawa.
What does this mean? Well, it means that the body has lost its ability to maintain normal dopamine levels, requiring repeated use of the addictive product to be at “normal” levels. Lack of dopamine means decreased positive thinking and an increased susceptibility to negative emotions, who need even more of that addictive product to cope with.
Over time, the “reward” provided for continuing the addiction is completely replaced with just the desire to have it. The need for this addiction becomes the brain’s new normal, and without it, function is often lost. This need is then integrated, resulting in dangerous susceptibility to addiction triggers.
3 ways to end addiction
If you have a goal, writing down your details is a good starting point. Research has found this to be a crucial factor and positive step that better solidifies the goal of your mind, allowing you to achieve it in better and more effective ways.
Substance Abuse Treatment Specialist Tiffany Douglass recommends several different steps to write things down when a serious addiction is overcome. To begin, you should start by writing down some of the ways in which your addiction harms you and those around you. It can be difficult to cope with the damaging effects of what your actions essentially are. But seeing this list will motivate you better and help you face reality.
Here are some ideas on how to do this:
- Start by focusing on what originally led to your addiction; What problems were you avoiding or dealing with through this addiction?
- Consider the ways your addiction has affected your mental health; Are you ashamed of your addiction, do you have symptoms of mental disorders, or do you generally feel bad all the time?
- Consider the ways your addiction has affected your physical health; Are you at a higher risk for certain diseases or have you started to notice some negative physical effects?
- Consider the ways your addiction has affected your financial situation; How much money are you spending on your addiction and what has kept you from financing?
- Think about the everyday problems that result from your addiction; Do you take too much time out of your day, do you feel judged by it, or are you struggling to focus without it?
Next, Douglass states that you need to start writing down what you imagine your life can be like once you get over your addiction or whatever you want it to look like.
Here are some ideas:
- You can finance your hobbies and other important things.
- You will be in a healthier and fitter shape.
- You will be happier with your friends and family, and they will be less worried about you.
- You will feel more free and with more control.
- You will have a stronger sense of self-worth and confidence.
- You will feel proud of yourself for overcoming all obstacles.
Finally, Douglass says you should add one more thing to your written list: your commitment to quit smoking. These commitments involve writing down clear reasons why you are motivationally quitting. Overcoming your addiction to working toward those commitments will be even more difficult if you’re not writing them down.
Here are some examples of motivational reasons for quitting:
- Live your life to the fullest, without fear or shame.
- Be a best friend, child, brother, spouse, partner or worker.
- Survive long so that you can see the things you want to see in the future, like your grandchildren.
- Live long enough to fulfill your dreams.
- Save more money so you can get away from things that cause you pain.
2. Prepare to handle difficulties
Temptation, withdrawal symptoms, and other similar problems can create setbacks that lead to relapse. If you are not prepared and are not brutally honest with yourself about how difficult the journey to overcome addiction can be, you can fall quickly the first time you are faced with a problem. Here are some tips for handling difficulties, according to Douglass:
Addiction often robs you of time and energy. Now that you are trying to quit smoking, you will have a lot more time available. If you don’t fill it in correctly, you may end up reverting to old patterns. Find distractions and new hobbies like exercising, socializing, cooking, or taking classes. The best options will be those that give you a boost in your positive thinking through feel-good hormones and activation of your brain’s reward systems. Exercising, singing, and dancing are some of the activities that do this.
Keep triggers at a distance
Try to take note of the things that trigger your addictive behaviors or increase your desire to give in to them. These triggers must be kept at a distance and beyond. Remove all memories of your addiction from your home, requesting help from others if necessary. Avoid places that encourage the actions of your addiction or that remind you. Stay away from people who are still deeply addicted and not interested in recovering. It seems like a lot to do, but it is often worth it.
Know that relapses are not the end
Relapse is commonly viewed as a form of “failure” on the part of recovering addicts. The truth is that it is often part of the journey. The longer you remain stuck in the guilt and shame of a relapse, the less time you have to focus on your renewed efforts to recover. After a relapse, you come out stronger and wiser, more aware of your limits, periods of danger, and what works best for you. You are not starting from the starting point. It is part of your progress. Remember, progress is not linear, so keep positive thinking!
3. Get help
Addiction is not a joke. The very concept of trying to break an addiction on your own is already an almost impossible battle, and there is no shame in it! Addiction is a tough dragon to beat. Still, the help of a professional is not only valuable, it is often a safer way to defeat your inner demons.
Certified Personal Trainer Tiffany Stafford He highly recommends seeking support, both professionally and personally, if you really want to overcome your addictions. Fortunately, many people struggle with addiction because many institutions and organizations offer help in fighting these battles. Here are some tips:
- Find local mental health professionals and therapists who are qualified and can create a workable treatment plan for you
- Find local support groups that meet or communicate regularly; you will feel less alone and have others fighting the same battle as you.
- Do your research to find the best professionals, groups, and resources for the issues you struggle with.
- Find free resources that offer help and assistance to those trying to quit addictions.
- Talk to a doctor or similar healthcare professional about possible withdrawal symptoms before you start trying to kick the habit, so you know what to prepare for.
- Trust the people you love and trust who care about you and ask for their support in affirmatively impact your chances of success; be sure to maintain and adhere to healthy boundaries on all sides.
Final thoughts on some of the reasons we become addicted and ways to end addictions
Fighting addiction is scary and difficult, but also brave. If you are struggling with overcoming an addiction of any kind, be it related to lesser known substances, activities or conditions, know that you are capable of breaking free from their chains.