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What Causes Addiction?   PDF  Print  Email 
cause of drug addictionThere has been controversy over the cause of addiction. Historically, it was thought that addiction was caused by lack of willpower, by poverty, moral weakness, mental illness, genetics, family socialization, anti-social personalities, and societal problems. Some scientists believe drug addiction is a disease, although the evidence to support this theory is weak.

The Drug: Some drugs are more addictive than others. This is due to the pharmacology of the substance, and how it affects the mood of the user.

The Addict: People who have low self-concepts, who feel bad about themselves, have a higher rate of addiction. People with low self-concepts use psychoactive substances either to enhance or create pleasure in their lives, or to decrease the constant emotional pain they live with. The better a person feels about himself, the less likely he will be to use or abuse psychoactive substances. A society that has easy access to drugs, that has a population that is "addiction-prone" due to genetics or emotional pain, and that has pro-use or unclear norms, is a society prone to addiction.

The Environment: In our biochemical society, we hear mixed messages about the use of psychoactive drugs. Some, such as alcohol and tabacco, are accepted, while use of hard drugs is condemned. Some drug use is glamorized in the media, while different states have different standards for public intoxication. All of this makes it easier for people to accept drug use as "normal".

Index of Terms

Addict ad·dict - n. a person who has a habit so strong that it cannot easily be given up [a "drug" addict]
v. to give onceself up to some strong habit [Some people are addicted to watching TV.]
Addiction ad·dic·tion - n. the condition of being addicted to something [trying to conquer an addiction to drugs]
Alcohol al·co·hol - n. the world's most popular "drug" and legally used in most countries. Alcohol is produced through the fermentation of fruits, vegetables or grains.
Drug drug - n. drugs essentially are poisons. The degree they are taken determines the effect. A small amount acts as a stimulant. A greater amount acts as a sedative. A larger amount acts as a poison and can kill one dead. This is true of any drug. Each has a different amount at which it gives those results.

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