Drug addiction is a chronic, progressive disease. It can begin as a voluntary decision to try a drug (often to self-medicate an underlying mental health issue), but then advances to a stronger craving for the substance as the brain changes and adapts to the drug. Although some mistakenly believe that quitting an addictive drug is just a matter of will power, as the disease progresses and takes over, quitting usually requires treatment and support. Speak Confidentially with a Journey Advisor at 844-878-1979.
Drug abuse is a growing public health problem with an enormous human toll. On any given day in 2013, more than 1.25 million adults in the U.S. were enrolled in and receiving treatment in a substance abuse program, and each year the total health and productivity cost of drug addiction tops an estimated $193 billion.
No one knows why some individuals can try a drug once and then walk away, while others can experiment with the same drug and become addicted, but research suggests that susceptibility to addiction is partly inherited and partly the result of environmental influences. Risk factors include:
Genetics: If addiction runs in your family, you may have inherited a genetic susceptibility to addiction. In addition, your genetic make-up influences your likelihood of developing certain mental or emotional disorders, such as anxiety, depression and bipolar disorder, which in turn can increase your risk of substance abuse and addiction.
Environment: Substance abuse and addiction are influenced by a host of environmental factors. Early exposure to substance abuse, such as having parents or other role models who abused drugs; dysfunctional parenting; childhood neglect, abuse or trauma; adult trauma; and various types of stress can all increase your risk of addiction.