Drug Addiction Causes

What Is Addiction?

Addiction is classified by the National Institute on Drug Abuse as a complicated illness wherein the afflicted suffers from intense cravings they cannot control, compulsively pursues drugs or alcohol, and continues to use them despite the dire consequences such use imposes on their life and health. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) refers to addictions as “substance abuse disorders.”

Who Needs Treatment?

Girl Sits In A Depression On The Floor Near The WallThe American government has complicated matters by sometimes playing both sides of the fence with regard to how drug addiction should be treated. On one hand, there are efforts to turn away from the stigma that addiction carries of being a criminal activity, but on the other hand, 48 percent of 2011 federal incarcerations and 17 percent of state-level incarcerations were for drug-related offenses, per the Bureau of Justice Statistics. The U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Prisons notes that federal incarceration came with a price tag of approximately $25,251 per inmate in 2009 — funds that might be better put to use in drug rehabilitation programs.

Outside cell walls, there is growing concern over the future of substance abuse in the United States, primarily due to the drug use habits of adolescents and teens. Marijuana is the perfect example – it being the most popularly abused illicit drug among American youth. Cannabis was used more regularly than cigarettes by 12th graders in 2013, with 22.7 percent admitting to past-month pot use, compared to 16.3 percent of admissions to past-month cigarette use, per DoSomething.org. This isn’t particularly surprising since data from the NIDA shows a marked decline in the number of high school seniors that consider regular marijuana use to be dangerous, with 44.1 percent labeling the drug as such in 2012 and only 39.5 percent holding that opinion in 2013.

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Of course, marijuana isn’t the only concern; the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids reported on data showing that 37.2 percent of teens who experienced past-year major depression engaged in substance abuse, while only 17.8 percent of teens who didn’t experience depression did such. WebMD also reported over 5 million teenagers as having abused prescription drugs. These teens are just part of the 52 million people over the age of 12 who have used a prescription drug at some point without a medical reason to, per NIDA.

So how will treatment facilities continue to keep up with the growing number of recreational drug users? The short answer is that not all of them will. There is constant competition among rehabilitation facilities to stay on top of the most up-and-coming treatment methods available, and some will fall behind in the game.


Risk Factors

Per Healthline, there are a variety of risk factors that predispose someone to developing a problem with substance abuse, such as:

  • A genetic trait inherited by parents, some of whom may have engaged in substance abuse
  • The use of harder substances like heroin that bring with it significant withdrawal effects more likely to keep the user coming back for more
  • Having a mental health disorder
  • Early onset drug use
  • An absence of adult supervision during childhood
  • Pressure from peers
  • Injecting or smoking drugs versus other methods of use
  • Growing up in an environment where regular substance abuse was witnessed as a child

The Road to Recovery

In the case of drug addiction, most substances do not carry standard treatment protocol. In other words, what works for one patient doesn’t always work for the next, especially when dealing with different substances and outside influences like trauma, abuse in the home, or mental illness.

The Role That Genes Play

The Child Welfare Information Gateway estimates that around 6 million children in the United States live with a parent who is engaged in substance abuse. Scholastic attributes 40 to 60 percent of an individual’s susceptibility toward addiction to genetic elements. The American Academy of Experts in Traumatic Stress points out a critical fact — children of alcoholics have a three to four times greater risk of developing a substance abuse habit of their own. Parents who use drugs themselves give their children the impression that they approve of the behavior, and when young people believe their parents are permissive about drug use, they’re more inclined to engage in it, according to the National Association for Children of Alcoholics.

Lackluster Surroundings

Children raised in an environment that lacked adequate adult supervision are at a substantially larger risk for developing substance abuse problems. In 2012, 678,810 children were reportedly suffering from maltreatment at the hands of their parents, 78 percent of them being neglected, per First Star. Likewise, adults who spend their time frequenting areas where substance abuse is prevalent or around other substance abusers are more likely to engage in the behavior too. In essence, you are whom you hang with.

A Washington University study even accounted for an increased influence on one’s genetic tendency to use drugs when engaged with peers who abuse substances. When in treatment, these factors must be addressed, specifically to help the patient heal the emotional wounds left by a neglectful childhood and to stress the importance of changing one’s lifestyle after treatment. It is vital to the success of the addict that old behavior patterns stemming from childhood issues and social activities, as well as one’s home life be set up to avoid as many triggers as possible. Likewise, counseling will assist patients in learning to deal with triggers and resist urges to turn to substance abuse as a way to cope.


The National Child Traumatic Stress Network accounts for a threefold increased risk of current or previous substance abuse among teenagers who had encountered sexual or physical abuse or assault in their lifetime. A study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health touted 26.6 percent of 17-year old girls and 5.1 percent of boys the same age had a lifetime experience with sexual abuse/assault. Additionally, 2008 data from the National Center for Victims of Crime regarding children from birth to 17 years old accounts for 4.3 percent of boys and 4.4 percent of girls being physically abused.

Linking trauma with mental health, NCTSN reports that over 70 percent of treatment-seeking adolescents in one survey reported a history of trauma. Of young persons diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, up to 59 percent of them developed a problem with substance abuse afterward. NAMI attests that 21 to 43 percent of individuals with lifetime PTSD will have a substance abuse problem, whereas only 8 to 25 percent of the general population ever will.

Mental Illness

For adults, the National Alliance on Mental Illness states that 20 percent of the 46 million American adults who suffered from a mental health disorder in 2010 also engaged in substance abuse, with research pointing toward substance abuse being more than two times as prevalent among the mentally ill than in the general population.

All patients are thoroughly screened for underlying disorders upon entry to our programs. For those who meet the criteria for a mental health disorder, their illness and substance abuse issues will be treated with one another in mind, simultaneously. Our medical professionals are highly skilled in making sure prescribed medications work well together and at ascertaining what types of therapy a patient is most likely to respond well to.

Cognitive behavioral therapy has gained serious ground in the addiction treatment community over the years as a highly effective tactic for treating those with comorbid mental illness. In all likelihood, most substance abusers end up addicted to drugs due to a complex combination of causes that will unfold during treatment.

The Full Scope of an Effective Treatment Program

hThose suffering from both drug and alcohol addiction will undergo medically supervised detoxification from both at the same time. Alcohol withdrawal can be uncomfortable, and although it seems like such a common affliction, detoxing from it at home isn’t recommended due to the risks posed to your physical health. Alcohol withdrawal is often medicated with drugs like naloxone and Campral, which serve to increase GABA levels while inhibiting the numbing experience many drinkers seek, per WebMD.

Sometimes events in a user’s life may lead them down a path to addiction, either willingly or otherwise. In other cases, a surgical patient may be put on a prescription opioid analgesic following surgery to limit the pain they experience. Prolonged exposure to painkillers like oxycodone and Vicodin can present a playing-with-fire scenario in a vulnerable individual’s life. While prescription drugs are thought to be safer and even reported as such by the government, in 2010, they were also responsible for around 60 percent of drug overdose deaths, 16,651 of which were linked to opioid painkillers, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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Currently, the most effective form of treatment for opioid addictions — inclusive of heroin and prescription opioid analgesics — begins with a medicated withdrawal period. The primary drugs used in these situations are methadone and buprenorphine. Methadone carries significant success rates among varying studies from 60 to 80 percent, with some insisting upon 100 percent success during treatment, since less than 1 percent of addicts being treated with methadone use heroin on a regular basis, per the Schaffer Library of Drug Policy. Buprenorphine’s reported success rates have varied too, but initial reports from the first program using it pointed to it lagging behind methadone only slightly at 88 percent, according to The Fix.

Nevertheless, both are effective measures for treatment and certain patients may be more inclined to find success via one over the other. Our job is to evaluate which will work best for you and set you up with the potential to get clean and remain that way — and we do it well.

For the majority of other less intense addictions, such as marijuana, detox is simpler and sometimes shorter too. CBT for substance abuse treatment has also been shown in some studies, like one by the American Psychological Association, to produce significant rates of abstinence in comparison to patients treated under a 12-step treatment module.


Treatment That Stands Out

Often, certain addictions are capable of being treated on an outpatient basis. All of our treatment programs involve extensive therapy, often in the form of support groups and structured group activities to help build your social skills and form lasting relationships with peers just like you. In addition, family members are frequently invited for therapy sessions to work on repairing the relationships that have been damaged at home and to prepare your loved ones for your transition into a new life of recovery. One-on-one psychotherapy is used for the treatment of most patients as well.

When building a treatment plan for our patients, we take practically their entire life story into consideration, from traumatic experiences and mental health struggles to difficulties in a patient’s home life and feelings of self-loathing and guilt for past mistakes. In 2009, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration accounted for 23.5 million Americans over the age of 11 being in need of treatment for a substance abuse problem, and only 2.6 million got the specialized help they needed. We’re committed to changing those numbers.

The journey to a drug-free life doesn’t come easily for most, but with some determination and hard work, coupled with us supporting you the whole way, it is possible to live a clean and healthy life once again. Call and speak with us here at Axis today and give yourself a reason to look forward to tomorrow.