The cause of one’s addiction problem varies depending on the individual. Over the years there has been a lot of controversy over the root cause of addiction sighting societal problems, lack of willpower, poverty, moral weakness, anti-social personalities, mental illness, genetics and family socialization. Many people believe that addiction to drugs or alcohol is a disease; however, the minimal scientific evidence to support the disease theory of addiction is weak at best.
The substance a person chooses to use is known to be part of the cause of their addiction. While some substances are not considered very physically or emotionally addictive, others are exceptionally addictive. This is due to the pharmacology of the substance and how it affects the user’s mood when they ingest it. A drug that provides instant gratification is going to become very valuable to the drug user quickly. They know that if they take the substance, (e.g., heroin) they will almost instantly feel better and the problems they are looking to escape from will seemingly go away.
How a person views themselves is also one of the causes of addiction. Research has shown that individuals with low self-esteem or who feel bad about themselves have a higher rate of addiction than a person who thinks well of themselves. A person with low self-esteem will use drugs or alcohol to enhance or create pleasure in their lives or to decrease the emotional turmoil they live with. The ratio of how good an individual feels about themselves directly correlates with how likely they are to use or abuse psychoactive substances. When society as a whole is unclear on what is “acceptable” regarding the use of psychoactive substances, has easy access to drugs and chooses to blame one’s drug or alcohol abuse on genetics or a disease instead of a personal choice the rate of addiction rises.
Lastly, the environment one lives in plays a role in the cause of addiction. Today’s biochemical society sends mixed messages about the use of psychoactive drugs. There are some drugs such as tobacco and alcohol that are accepted and then there are other drugs such as heroin and cocaine deemed “hard drugs” that are not socially acceptable. Movies, T.V. shows, music and other forms of media have glamorized the use of many different substances, continuing to blur the line between what is “normal” and what is going too far when it comes to public intoxication. The more people see the lines blurred when it comes to socially acceptable substance use and intoxication the easier it is for them to view drug use as “normal” and choose to experiment with substance use too.