1. Understanding Substance Use Problems and Addiction

What causes addiction?


It is hard to know why some people develop substance use or other addictions and others do not. No single answer has been found, though it seems that addictions result from connections among a number of factors, such as:

    genes
    the way a person’s brain works
    difficulties during childhood
    life events
    mental health problems
    stress
    environment
    cultural influences.

People may continue to use substances because they feel driven to do so and find it difficult to reduce or stop. This is not because they are weak or unmotivated. For some people, using substances over and over again can lead to changes in their brain chemistry. These changes lead to their continued substance use (Volkow et al., 2016). While not everything about addiction is understood, some things are clear: nobody chooses to become addicted, and addiction is not a personal weakness or character flaw.