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Why Am I Addicted? Recognizing the Common Causes of Addiction

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Drugs and alcohol can have different effects on different people.  Some will use the substance occasionally without becoming addicted.  Others will develop a dependency or addiction right away and find themselves unable to quit.  So, learning the common causes of addiction may help you avoid becoming one of the many individuals who ask “Why am I addicted?

Common Causes of Addiction You Need to Know

Common Causes of AddictionKnowing the causes of addiction can help you avoid substance use.  But, if you are currently experimenting with illegal substances, understanding why you did so will benefit you during the recovery process and relapse prevention.

As a complex disorder, addiction has many factors contributing to its development.  What causes addiction will vary depending on each individual’s unique situation.  

Experts in the field of addiction and rehabilitation agree that the most common causes of addiction are:

Low Self-Esteem

In many cases of addiction, the individual had low self-esteem before the addiction occurred.  Someone with low self-esteem may use drugs or alcohol as a form of self-medication.  They strive for the emotional outlet provided by the substances.  People with these characteristics are more likely to follow the crowd and use intoxicating substances or mood-altering drugs. Do you have any experience with similar situations?

Mental Health Disorders

The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) reports that more than 7.9 million people are diagnosed as having both a SUD and a mental disorder, referred to as dual-diagnosis.  The most common mental disorders associated with addiction are:

  • Depression
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Anxiety Disorders
  • PTSD
  • OCD

Depending on the mental illness, drug and alcohol use will be affected differently.  Are you struggling with any of the above disorders?

Peer Pressure

Caving into peer pressure to use drugs or alcohol is one step on the path toward SUD.  Although it may seem important to impress your friends, the consequences are not worth the risk.  Are you letting your friends influence your decision to experiment with addictive substances?

Genetic Predisposition

Research shows that genetics play a significant role in the development of addiction. Recent advances in DNA analysis help scientists understand complex genetic interactions.  This can contribute to the ability to single out brain processes and individual genes that may help in developing improved treatment and prevention technologies.  Does your family have a history of drug or alcohol use?

Addictive Personality

Addictive personality refers to someone who engages in reward-seeking behaviors.  Risk-taking behaviors are also part of an addictive personality.  Drugs and alcohol use are commonly involved when these individuals want to have a little more fun.  How often do you look for ways to ramp up the excitement?

Are You Ignoring or Overlooking the Common Causes of Addiction?

If you’re wondering what causes addiction, you won’t find a simple answer.  As you can see from the above list, the reasons why people develop addiction are complex.  But, if you are currently using drugs or alcohol and answered yes to one or more of the questions above, you may have been ignoring or overlooking the warning signs of addiction.

The warning signs of addiction can be subtle or dramatic.  However, in most cases, the signs become more pronounced with continued use of the substance.  Here are the most obvious signs of addiction you need to watch for:

Warning signs of addiction:

  • Your substance use is out of control.  Even if you try to stop, you fail.
  • To get a high, you need more of the substance.
  • Loss of interest in friends or family.  
  • Relationship problems.
  • Frequent mood swings and feeling anxious or irritable.
  • Cravings for the substance and other withdrawal symptoms.
  • Drastic changes in physical appearance.
  • A lack of effort in school, work, or other responsibilities.
  • Sleep disturbances, loss of appetite, weight changes.

Addiction manifests differently for everyone, but these symptoms are most commonly observed.  Only a licensed professional can diagnose whether you have an addiction.  The above signs are provided not as a diagnosis, but as an incentive to get you to take note and seek help.

How Do I Deal with Addiction?

Are you ready to get help with stopping substance use?  If so, your first step is to find a reputable treatment center.  Why is this necessary? Because having skilled professionals who can address addiction’s physical and mental aspects is essential to successful recovery.  

At Design for Change Recovery, we treat physical dependence alongside the co-occurring mental issues that contributed to your substance use.  Without this multifaceted approach to therapy, lasting recovery is unlikely.  

Our individualized treatment programs adapt to your specific needs to ensure you get the highest level of treatment possible.  Put an end to your struggle with substance use.  Get started on a new, substance-free life by contacting our Lancaster, CA facility right now.  One of our representatives will be available to help you choose a treatment program customized especially for you.


  • – Genetics and Epigenetics of Addiction DrugFacts
  • –  Key Substance Use and Mental Health Indicators: Results from the 2020 National Survey on Drug Use and Health
Why Am I Addicted? Recognizing the Common Causes of Addiction