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Where Does Addiction Come From?

Where Does Addiction Come From?

There are nearly 20 million people in the US living with a substance-use disorder. Sadly, many of them don’t realize the truth behind how they got where they are today. 

Our team at Drug, Alcohol, Mental Health Counseling & Evaluation Services, Inc. believes that understanding the root cause of your addiction is an important first step in recovery. Here’s what you should know about what’s going on behind the scenes of addiction.

Risk factors for addiction

Addiction can happen to anyone, and it often begins with small, voluntary acts that seem benign. However, there are inherited, environmental, and lifestyle factors that increase your risk, including:

Many researchers also point to genetics as a contributing factor in addiction. Also, the development of your addiction may be directly linked to the type of substance you’re using. For instance, stimulants, such as opioid painkillers, may result in addiction.

Smoking or injecting drugs can also increase your potential for addiction. Even so-called “light drugs” can open the door to increased drug use and addiction.

The science behind addiction

Much of addictive behavior begins in the brain. Your brain is equipped with circuitry that responds to stimuli and rewarding behaviors. For example, exercising, spending time with family, and enjoying a hobby are all positive behaviors that produce a positive reaction in your brain, prompting you to repeat those behaviors to regain that feeling. 

Substances, such as alcohol and drugs, produce a euphoric feeling by triggering a flood of dopamine in a certain area of your brain responsible for those feelings of reward. In short, substances take over your brain's reward circuitry and increase the urge to consume more and more of the substance in order to maintain the euphoric, rewarding feeling.

Eventually, as your addiction to substances grows, you no longer feel “rewarded.” Instead, you use the substances simply to feel normal. And if you stop using them, overwhelming withdrawal symptoms set in. 

Additionally, drugs and alcohol impair the functioning of your prefrontal cortex. This is the section of your brain that’s supposed to help you make decisions and decide what is harmful and what is safe. 

A combination of these mechanisms, as well as the risk factors for addiction, can all lead to the development of an addictive disorder. 

Identifying an addiction

Just like any other disease, addiction has signs and symptoms. Here are some of the most common warning signs of an addiction:

Addiction can also manifest itself as anxiety, irritability, insomnia, tremors, and even seizures. If you identify these red flags in yourself or a loved one, it’s time to get help. 

How we can help

The road back from addiction is challenging — but you don’t have to do it alone. Our team of experts specializes in a variety of substance-abuse treatments that address your specific needs. 

We begin by conducting a thorough review of your entire health history, instead of just focusing on your disease. We take an integrative approach to your care and use a combination of treatments to help you both overcome addiction and start a healthier life. 

Some of our treatments and therapies include drug recovery servicesSuboxone® treatmentrapid detoxmethadone clinic, and therapy

No matter where your addiction came from, we have the resources and treatments that can get you started on a substance-free life. Call or click to schedule an appointment at our Honolulu office today.

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