What Causes Addiction?

Patient Support

Addiction is a complex condition – a chronic brain disorder revolving around neurological processes and the response to stimuli. While addiction has become easier to define in just a sentence, it’s much more difficult to understand and explain what causes addiction, or even how to identify it in ourselves or others.

What Causes Addiction?

It’s important to know that there is not a single thing that causes addiction. There are thousands of possible genes that could be involved and even more possible environmental exposures that contribute to the development of an addiction and of an addiction-related disorder.

Addiction requires an initial exposure – substances, alcohol, shopping, gambling, etc… The development of an addiction can occur when the brain responds to that stimuli in a pleasurable way that makes it more likely that someone will go back for more of the stimuli. Someone can also develop an addiction if there are related events that the substance relieves. These “coping” behaviors can also become wired into the brain.

Do I Have an Addiction?

It is important to know that there is a difference between having an addiction and having an addiction-related disorder. An addiction alone can be problematic, and an addiction-related disorder is when there are notable negative outcomes as a direct result of substance use or addictive behaviors. Every individual has a unique combination of genetic and environmental factors that contribute to their addiction or addiction-related disorder. 

You should talk with your doctor about your medical history, use history, family history, and potential environmental triggers if you:

  • …feel that your substance use or behavior is negatively impacting your life
  • …feel that your substance use or behavior is becoming problematic and could negatively impact your life in the future
  • …hide your substance use or behavior from others
  • …have had negative consequences as a result of your substance use or behavior
  • …have family or friends who have commented on your substance use or behavior
  • …just don’t feel right about your substance use or behavior


Advanced Treatment at Wellbridge

If you have talked with your doctor and have been diagnosed with a Substance Use Disorder (SUD), reach out to our team at Wellbridge to learn more about advanced addiction treatment. Our state-of-the-art facility leads treatment with science, bridging the gap between research and clinical care for the benefit of those in our care.