Not all of us are prone to addiction. However, science and research indicates that there is a genetic component and that some of us are more vulnerable to addiction than others. With this in mind, there are some significant factors that can contribute the development of an addiction in life.
Addiction can happen rather innocently. No one sets out to have an addiction. It starts slowly, without intention. One night you’re having a drink because you lost your job and the next thing you know the escape from feelings found in alcohol leads to more and more drinking which leads to addiction. It can be that easy, despite our deepest intentions not to hurt ourselves.
Yet, little by little, if the right things are in place, an addiction can slowly grow. This is particularly true if you are genetically prone to addiction. If you are vulnerable to the tendencies of addiction, perhaps by growing up in a family of addiction or by being surrounded by relatives who struggled with addiction, you might find that you later also struggle with addiction.
The following are four major contributing factors that can facilitate the development of an addiction in one’s life. Add to this someone’s genetic vulnerability and it’s quite possible that he or she will develop an addiction. These are:
The way you deal with stress – Often, a common unhealthy coping mechanism is using drugs and alcohol. It’s common to turn to drinking, for example, if you’re feeling depressed, psychotic, unstable, or emotionally at a loss. It’s common for others who had very critical parents to turn to marijuana, a drug that helps ease the internalized self-judgment. In fact, managing stress is very much related to being able to manage emotions. The two go hand in hand. When someone turns to drinking or drug use as a means for managing their stress, he or she may later find themselves struggling with addiction.
Who you allow in your life – As mentioned earlier, the people that are around us affect us greatly. We are influenced by their thoughts, ideas, behaviors, and choices. Someone who will easily turn to drinking to avoid facing their inner emotions is much different than someone who attends psychotherapy every week and who hasn’t ever thought about using drugs or alcohol as a way to cope with emotions. The differences in the character of those you spend time with will have an effect on your own character.
What you do in your free time – Sometimes, something as simple as boredom can lead to alcohol or drug use. Not knowing what to do in your free time can be a door into using. However, other activities, such as the types of movies you watch, the people you spend time with, the type of reading you do, and where you spend your time can also influence your choice to drink or use drugs. For instance, if during your free time you choose to spend time at the skate park where you know there is access to drugs, you put yourself in a difficult situation.
How you think about yourself – Another large factor in the development of an addiction is the thoughts that we possess about ourselves. If we believe that we are not good enough or not smart enough or not capable enough, there can be more of a tendency to allow yourself to drink. If you believe that you’re low on the totem pole of life, you might have a victim mindset and make choices that are self-destructive and self-harming.
Of course, it’s important to keep in mind that even someone who spends time with those who drink, who spends their free time in risky situations, who thinks poorly of themselves, and who has poor coping mechanisms may not develop an addiction. Addiction continues to be a complex illness that needs to be further understood. Nonetheless, research has shown that there are common patterns that can contribute to the development of addiction, four of which are listed above.
If you are reading this on any blog other than Transcend Recovery Community or via my RSS Feed, it is stolen content without credit. You can find me on Twitter via @RecoveryRobert Come and visit our blog at http://TranscendRecoveryCommunity.com/blog