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What Makes an Addict?

What Makes an Addict?

February 14, 2018
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When one part of the population experiences such a different reaction to drugs and alcohol than the everyone else, it’s natural to wonder what is behind it. In this blog post,we’ll attempt to explain variations in addicts from neurological, biological, environmental and genetic levels. Regarding the genetic explanation for what creates an addict, the answer is pretty straightforward and generally understood. Genetics play a big role in if one is predisposed to addiction. Those with addicts or alcoholics in their family are more likely to become them themselves. However, a little bit harder to explain are the biological, neurological and environmental factors to addiction.

The neurological factors to addiction entail the brain’s experience while addiction is happening. There are three primary stages to addiction- first is preoccupation, second is binge and third is withdrawal. The stages have complex, intertwining relationships with one another and grow worse and worse with the use. However, what is profound about these stages is that the way one’s brain chemically responds to the stages is a major factor in addiction. The chemical response put out by one’s brain during the three stages changes very quickly and this alters brain chemistry; the functioning of a brain’s circuitry decreases a lot in users, giving them sensations of desperation and more. The change in brain chemistry can transform a normal brain into that of an addict, depending on how one reacts to the drugs/alcohol they are ingesting.

There are also a lot of biological factors behind addiction. These factors draw from both neurological and genetic counterparts. A user’s response to a drug or other stimuli is based primarily on their brain makeup. Brain makeup is what comprises the biological factor. Brain makeup is based on inherited genes as well as brain circuitry functions and chemical patterns that comprise neurological factors. Brain makeup may sound complex, but just understand it entails one’s thought process. Anyone that has any experience with an addict knows that their thought processes vary greatly from those without the disease. A big trademark of addicts is lack of ability to resist impulse. This thought process, or lack thereof, helps to exemplify the biological reasons for addiction.

Lastly, and probably the most complex, environmental factors have a lot to do with determining addiction. In a nutshell, the environmental factors for addiction entail the fact that substance abuse can pop up as a poor coping mechanism or response to some kind of tragedy or trauma. How you interpret things growing up and what specific things happened to you while growing up combine to the environmental factors behind addiction. Those that are easily distraught, easily swayed or upset, those that have a hard time working or making friendships, or those that are persecuted have a higher likelihood of substance abuse. The concept of persecution or isolation is especially relevant. In those that have experienced derision, rates of substance abuse are higher. For example,it  has been stated that 20 to 30 percent of LGBTQ people battle addiction, whereas the rate is only 9 percent for the rest of the population.

Whatever factors are behind the substance abuse of you our a loved one, you are going to need help. Rely on the help and support of Recovery Care Partner to change lives this new year.