The answer is clear: there is no single cause for the occurrence of an addictive disorder. In fact, there are several factors that influence the development of this type of disorder. In other words, different interrelated factors cause a series of changes in the brain when a person starts using a drug.
When these changes occur, the so-called reward circuits are altered. These are responsible for letting a person know whether an action is beneficial for them or not and, therefore, whether it is worth repeating or not. These changes eventually establish a looping process in the brain that ultimately triggers addiction.
The most influential factors in the development of an addictive disorder are the following:
- Genetic. One of the main factors is determined by genetics.
- Environmental. The environmental stimuli people are subjected to throughout their lives play a fundamental role in the development of the disorder. For example, the earlier and the greater the consumption of a particular drug occurs in a person's life, the greater the risk of developing an addiction.
- Personality. Certain personality traits, such as impulsiveness or thrill-seeking, increase the risk of having an addictive disorder.
- Mental illness. Having a mental illness also increases the risk of developing a disorder of this type.
- Social situation. Social circumstances are also important in the development of addictions. Accessibility, finance and advertising are other factors which influence the extent of drug use and how addicted a generation is.
Once an addictive disorder begins, its development is usually relapsing-remitting. That is, a person is unable to control consumption and alternates between periods of abstinence and high consumption. There are also certain triggers for relapse, such as:
- Psychological discomfort, such as sadness, anxiety, nervousness or irritability.
- Drug-related stimuli, such as seeing other people taking the drug.
- Craving, which is defined as a very intense and often uncontrollable desire to take the drug.
- Physical withdrawal, which appears when the person has physiological dependence on the substance.
In short, addiction is a chronic and relapsing mental disorder that does not have a specific cause, but rather several that interact with each other; influencing the appearance and development of the disease.