How An Addiction Develops
In the development of an addiction, there is a genetic predisposition that makes it more likely that a person ends up being addicted because their brain reacts differently to drugs. However, this is not the only factor that causes the evolution of an addiction.
The first contact with drugs or alcohol
Many people start consuming marijuana or alcohol with their friends because, especially alcohol, is part of meetings and is widely considered an important part of socialization.
That is, there is easy access to certain types of substances that can cause addiction and the consumption of some of them is encouraged.
In other cases, addiction begins with the medical prescription of certain medications to relieve symptoms such as anxiety or depression.
On the other hand, it is frequent in addicts the existence of some emotional problem, such as anxiety (including social anxiety), depression, family problems, etc. After the initial contact with alcohol or drugs, this person discovers that these substances relieve him of his discomfort, the emotional pain disappears, he becomes more sociable and feels better. This effect is not the same in all people, since genes determine how our brain will react to them.
Many addicts have been victims of abuse or other types of traumas, especially in the case of addicted women and the use of substances produces a relief of symptoms and an escape route.
In this way, what can begin as a recreational use among friends, becomes a kind of self-treatment for emotional problems.
Little by little, the life of this person begins to focus more and more around the drug he uses: how to find it, consume it, recover from its adverse effects, like the hangover produced by alcohol, and goes back to look for it.
They do not think they can become addicted, but feel they can control it and leave it whenever they want. Or they do not have enough information about the effects of drugs and their dangers or addictive potential. Likewise, they may have the wrong idea of what it is to be an addict, thinking that addicts are people who can not keep a job, have normal relationships, or become violent, etc. As they see that this is not happening to them, they conclude that they are not addicted.
Denial is a typical symptom of addiction. It is an unconscious defense mechanism. The substance they take is used to produce a change in their mood and they fear that without it they will feel totally overwhelmed by anxiety or sadness or will be unable to enjoy their relationships with others or to relate to them.
Thus, they convince themselves that nothing is happening, that it is okay to continue taking it. What happens is that they do not want to leave it, because they feel they need it; they need the effect that it produces on them, the relief of emotional discomfort.
The degree of denial can vary, being more or less serious, but in some cases the denial can be so great that a person can continue saying that he is not addicted despite having lost his job and his family because of his addiction.
In order to maintain the denial that allows them to continue consuming, they blame others or the circumstances for the negative consequences. For example, they blame their partner for the breakup or their boss for being excessively tough and bossy.
The loss of control
Although at the beginning the addict resorts to the drug to feel better and because of the effects that they produce on his mood, as the addiction develops, it is the drug that takes control and the addict resorts to it to avoid the syndrome. The substance you consume has produced changes in brain function. It no longer produces the effect it produced at the beginning. He no longer uses it for the reasons why he started using it, but for very different ones. Your brain has changed and now it pushes you to continue consuming.
The personality changes and the addict’s whole life begins to revolve around addiction. Given the importance that substance has acquired in his life, the rest is in the background. Your own family can begin to become a burden, you begin to see them as too demanding, that they do not leave you alone, their needs are less important for the addict, who is too preoccupied with their addiction.
Problems appear in their relationships , arguments and resentment. Excessive spending of money to maintain addiction can also create conflicts in the family.
Work also begins to be endangered, performance decreases, absenteeism increases, and work ceases to be important.
Even so, some people can maintain a more or less acceptable level of functioning despite the addiction, they may be able to maintain their work and even their relationships, but such relationships will hardly be satisfactory, there will be problems, discomfort, reproaches. And at work he will not yield 100% or take advantage of all his capacity or opportunities.
Moral deterioration can also occur. They can use the money that was for important expenses of their children to buy drugs, steal money from family or friends, give sex in exchange for drugs, etc.
The drug has become the main priority in his life and he can do anything to get it. The others have become the enemies that crush him saying what he has to do. He no longer has control over himself or his life and needs help to get out of that circle in which he has been trapped.
The road to recovery
In spite of everything, the problems for which he started taking drugs or alcohol are still there. If you started drinking to alleviate anxiety, shyness, depression, or insomnia , you will still have those problems, in addition to all those caused by the addiction.
You may be able to stop using the drug for a while, but if it does not solve the problems that caused the addiction in the first place-as well as the problems that the addiction has caused later-there is a good chance that it will relapse sooner or later or change a addiction for another (for example, you can switch from alcohol to benzodiazepines).
If you continue to blame others, if you remain insensitive to the needs of others for being too self-centered and striving not to get high, if your self-esteem is damaged by addiction, if the problems you have generated in your relationships create discomfort … all that can make it very difficult to stop drugs or alcohol without the help of specialized professionals.
For this reason, the most important step an addict can take toward their recovery is to recognize that they can not do it alone and should seek the help of others.
Oh, and if you found this article helpful, then we urge you to also read Cocaine addiction, effects and cure