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Why Do Some People Get Addicted to Substances but Others Don’t?


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Addiction is an extremely complex disease.  Scientists have been working hard for decades trying to determine the causes, but it still isn’t completely clear.  It is believed a person who suffers from addiction has a brain makeup slightly different from those who are not addicts, which can result in their potential for abuse.

Several factors can contribute to addiction, with the first being genetics.  Alcoholism and the potential for addiction is known to be hereditary.  A child who has an addicted parent is four times more likely to become an addict themselves.  Moreover, sixty percent of alcoholics have a family history of alcoholism.  Neuroscientists have stated genetic factors account for a whopping forty to sixty percent of the cause of addiction.

A person’s brain does not stop developing until long after childhood.  If you use drugs or alcohol before development is complete, addiction is more likely to occur.  The part of the brain that controls self-control and judgement is very important, so a development restriction could ultimately result in addiction.  Underlying psychiatric conditions such as depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, and bipolar can all cause you to be more vulnerable.  

Peer pressure, abuse, and stress can play a part in addiction, as well.  When you’re stressed, you don’t think clearly.  Stress is like a sky of grey clouds taking over your mind and ability to make rational decisions.  People who suffer from addiction lack appropriate coping skills of handling stressful situations.  Typically, peer pressure refers to a person’s peer or acquaintance influencing them to do something they normally wouldn’t.  Peer pressure is a powerful mechanism for adolescents and adults.  If you’re hanging around friends who drink and use, it is pretty likely you will partake eventually, too.   

Men and women have distinct differences regarding addiction.  Men are more likely to use drugs and take higher doses than women.  Although women take lower doses, their use can escalate more quickly and their cravings can be stronger.  Race and ethnicity can play a role, too.  Genetic makeup causes some individuals to produce varying responses to the same drug, making them more prone to addiction.

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