Addiction is a uniquely diverse concept. The causes of addiction are diverse, but the symptoms and treatments for each unique addiction are so similar that they are considered unified as a condition. There is a profound difference in baseline cause, for example, between opiate addiction and an eating disorder. But the two can recover and share a support community, gaining the same benefit from similar treatment.
So why are the many addictions so similar? Why do the behavior patterns match so closely when the addictive triggers are different? Most importantly, what are the core causes of addiction? We’ll cover all that in a brief exploration into the causes of addiction.
Addiction In The Brain: Reward-Seeking and Withdrawal-Avoidance
Addiction is defined by two things: reward-seeking and withdrawal-avoidance. Every addiction falls into one or both of these categories. Most of the time, someone who experiences addiction is driven by these two urges. In those prone to addiction, they may have a weakness for either seeking reward or avoiding negative experiences.
Chemical dependency is known for the long-term threat of withdrawal, while emotional dependency more strongly relates to seeking reward. Let’s explore the many causes of addiction in detail.
Chemical addiction is most commonly seen as drug addiction and alcoholism. Those addicted start using the substance for the reward, and continue seeking that behavior for the reward. From there, addicting chemicals replace other chemicals in the body, and the body becomes dependent. Going without the chemical makes the body feel a profound lack, because the addicted stop producing the replaced, which creates physical withdrawals.
Increasing tolerance eventually reduces the reward, causing rapid and reckless reward seeking. Even so, the pain and discomfort created by withdrawals causes addicts to be unable to stop.
Addictive Personality Disorder
Chemical dependency uses stimuli – positive feelings and withdrawal sickness – to create the addiction cycle. The opposite side of this occurs in people with addictive personality disorder. This disorder creates a tendency to seek the reward/pain cycle similar to addiction. A person with this disorder might become addicted to anything, like watching television, working out, or eating a favorite food.
Anything that provides too much of a reward might trigger addiction-like reward seeking behaviors.
Trauma and Addiction
Experiencing trauma can create obsessive and avoidant behaviors, which can enter the addiction cycle. People often develop an addiction based on avoiding unpleasant memories and thoughts that occur after trauma. The interesting factor here is that trauma can trigger either chemical or behavioral addictions.
In simplest terms, trauma serves as psychological driving avoidance force, which fuels addictions found while avoiding thoughts and memories of trauma.
Psychological / Emotional Dependency
The third type of addiction is often called emotional dependency. It can also be considered psychological dependency. In this case, the addiction cycle is fueled by an emotional state or psychological condition. The addiction trigger makes the person feel good, and their mood or performance drops without it. This can work even for things that do not create a chemical dependency, like using essential oils or going through a ritual.
Preexisting Conditions: Soothing a Neurotransmitter Imbalance
Many people have a medical imbalance that causes them to crave correction. Medical depression, for example, where the brain fails to produce enough dopamine or produces too much serotonin are susceptible to chemicals that fix the balance. For example, alcoholics are often found to have underlying conditions that cause alcohol – initially – to treat the symptoms.
Anything that makes the discomfort of a medical imbalance of neurotransmitters can trigger an addiction, especially if there are few other options to treat the condition.
The Many Causes of Addiction
Addiction comes in many forms, but the two driving forces are always reward-seeking and withdrawal-avoidance. All the behaviors and patterns that come with addiction occur when forces create this dual-engine cycle of motivation. If you or someone you know is suffering from addiction of any cause, we can help. First Steps Recovery of Fresno, California are ready to guide you through recovery by addressing the core causes and motivations of your addiction. Contact us online or call 844-244-7837.