Discussing the Root Causes of Addiction

Whether you’re someone suffering from addiction or merely a friend, family member or even just someone unrelated who wants to know more, the theme of root causes for your addiction can be both an interesting and useful one. Knowing how addictions form and why certain people might be at higher risk for them can be very important for helping treat and overcome them in many cases.

At Moonlight Mountain Recovery, we’re here to help with numerous areas of the addiction recovery process with both our inpatient and outpatient recovery programs. During these programs, the causes and triggers for addiction will be common topics we help our patients work through. What are some of the root causes of addiction that are known, and how might they impact you or someone you love? Here’s a basic primer.


As many are already aware, genetics can play a role in addiction and substance abuse disorders. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “People with certain genes may be more vulnerable than others to developing an addiction.” This is due to the fact that these individuals may have a lower amount of dopamine receptors in their brain, making it harder for them to feel pleasure from natural activities.

There are actually a few distinct parts of the genetic world that may be at play here:

  • Family history: For many, addiction may run in the family. If you have a parent or grandparent who struggled with addiction, you may be more likely to as well. This is due to both genetics and environmental factors that will be discussed later.
  • Twin studies: In looking at identical twins, researchers have found that if one twin has an addiction, the other is more likely to as well. This is even the case when the twins are raised in different households.
  • Race: While difficult to study, some experts believe that race may play a role in addiction as well. Unfortunately, this is an area where not enough research has been conducted.
  • Gender: In some cases, gender can be a predictor for addiction as well. Studies have shown that men are more likely than women to abuse substances and develop addictions.

Personal Factors

There are also a number of individual factors that may play a role in addiction forming, including:

  • Separate health conditions: For many who suffer from addiction, this is not the only health condition they are dealing with. In fact, it’s often just the beginning. Anxiety disorders, depression, and trauma are all common mental health conditions that often go hand-in-hand with addiction. In many cases, these introduce complications that make addiction harder to overcome.
  • Low self-esteem: According to the website Drug Abuse, “People who feel bad about themselves or have low self-esteem are also at increased risk for developing an addiction.” This is because these individuals may turn to substances as a way of coping with negative feelings.
  • Poor coping skills: If you have trouble dealing with stress or other tough life situations, you may be more likely to develop an addiction. This is because you may not have the tools necessary to deal with these challenges in a healthy way.
  • A history of trauma: A traumatic event or series of events can often lead to addiction. This is because the individual may turn to substances as a way of numbing the pain they are feeling.

Environmental Factors

There are also a number of environmental factors that can play a role in addiction, including:

  • Stress and anxiety: One of the single most common and notable contributors to addiction is stress. This can come from a variety of different sources, including work, school, family, and more. When individuals are constantly feeling stressed out, they may turn to substances as a way of coping. In addition, stress plays a major role in your brain’s reward system, which is closely linked to addiction through chemicals like dopamine and other related hormones.
  • Accessibility: Another environmental factor that can contribute to addiction is accessibility. If substances are easy to come by, you may be more likely to use them and develop an addiction. This is especially true if they are cheap or free.
  • Peer pressure: In many cases, people start using substances because their friends or peers are using them as well. This is especially common in adolescence, when peer pressure can be extremely strong.
  • Childhood issues: For others, addiction may stem from childhood issues, such as abuse or neglect. These can lead to a number of different mental health conditions that may make addiction more likely.
  • Status: Socioeconomic status is another environmental factor that can play a role in addiction. This is because those who are lower on the socioeconomic ladder may have more stress and fewer resources to deal with it. This can lead to increased rates of substance abuse and addiction.
  • Culture and cultural changes: Finally, for some people, addiction may be a product of their culture or cultural changes. This is because certain cultures may have different attitudes towards substance use. In addition, cultural changes, such as the increased availability of substances, may also play a role.

Addiction is a complex disease that can have a number of different causes. By understanding these root causes, you can be better equipped to deal with addiction, whether you’re struggling with it yourself or someone you know is.

For more on this, or to learn about any of our addiction recovery programs in Boise, speak to the caring staff at Moonlight Mountain Recovery today.

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