Why People Get Addicted

It is well documented that addicts lose control over their lives as they go deeper in the addiction. Even when they attempt to stop using the substance, there is a risk of death especially when they go “cold turkey”.  However, one question that remains unclear is why one group of people become addicts and others do not?

The generally accepted reasons why people turn to drugs include the following:

  • Battling anxiety and depression
  • Peer pressure
  • Boredom
  • Stress management
  • Covering up for painful loss
  • Medically induced addiction (in pain or disability treatments)
  • Trying to blend in
  • Chasing the elusive high once experienced in the past

However, looking at these reasons, it is still obvious that virtually all individuals have been exposed to factors that will make them become addicts on the back of those reasons. So why are we not all addicts?

One of the first explanations of addiction pins it as a moral weakness but this has been deemed unsatisfactory in psychology’s quarters because it is circular. It doesn’t properly show why some people are able to resist addiction. Such moralistic interpretation hasn’t been accepted by scientists either because it gives credence to the unscientific concept known as free will.

If we rule out the moral weakness theory as a false explanation, we are left with two possible theories having been documented by addiction researchers. The first is the disease model which says that addicts have a biological vulnerability to some or all addictive drugs. The alternative view on the other hand is that addicts have simply learnt to repeat actions that have made them feel good in the past, thereby feeding their addiction.


So Why Do People Really Get Addicted?

The question of why some individuals become addicts will remain an open one for a while but biological psychologists may have an answer in the near future. It has long been established that addicts have dopamine systems that are not fully active and that they suffer from a reduced capacity to experience pleasure in their everyday lives.

There is more backing for this because it has also been established that brain receptors generally get depleted from over-simulation by the neurotransmitter.  Researchers have now reported genetic irregularities that can be linked with addictive tendencies BEFORE addiction grows.

In summary therefore, there is reason to believe that some people are more prone to addiction because they obtain less pleasure through natural methods like friendships, romantic relationships and work. This perhaps highlights why they are always on the prowl for stimulus and thrills with addictive substances. An infographic by  Black Bear Lodge explains this and why most users are not getting help, but how long-term recovery is their best hope:

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