“Walk a mile in someone else’s shoes.” There’s maybe no better example of something being easier said than done – especially when it comes to your loved one’s drug usage. It’s never easy to understand why your loved one is drinking or using drugs, and you certainly don’t want to start using drugs yourself in an attempt to understand.
If you’ve confronted your loved one before and heard them say that you just don’t get it, they aren’t saying that as a way to defend themselves. What they’re trying to communicate is you don’t feel what they feel, think what they think, or struggle with the disease they’re struggling with.
Luckily though, there is a way for you to wrap your head around what they’re going through. And it starts with learning about the causes of drug abuse and addiction.
Once you are more educated on why addiction happens, you’ll be able to more effectively communicate with your loved one and help them get the treatment they need!
Why My Loved One is Addicted to Drugs: The Causes of Addiction
1. Addiction Can Start with a Genuine Need for a Drug
A perfect example of this is a painkiller prescription. In many cases, an opioid addiction is triggered as a result of a legal prescription written by a doctor to help relieve pain. In fact, this overprescribing by doctors is what has led to the opioid epidemic the nation is struggling with today.
If your loved one was given a prescription, they were most likely unaware of the consequences of using it too much. Drugs like prescription opioids actually change your loved one’s brain over time to make them think they need more of the drug to feel good.
It wasn’t that your loved one wanted to become an addict; they just didn’t suspect it would happen to them.
2. Genetic Predispositions Play a Role in Addiction
Your loved one may be abusing drugs because they were more genetically vulnerable to addiction. It’s been well established across the scientific community that addiction is a disease. And that’s because scientists have found that there is an inherited component to addiction, where certain genes play a role in an individual’s addiction.
Genetic research is continuing to uncover more and more about addiction and our genes, but it’s important to keep in mind that your loved one’s addiction was influenced by their own genetics. You wouldn’t blame your loved one if they were suffering from cancer or heart disease, so addiction shouldn’t be any different.
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3. Environmental Factors like Trauma Can Trigger Substance Abuse
Just because someone may be susceptible to addiction because of their genetics, doesn’t mean drug abuse is inevitable. In fact, it takes other environmental factors to trigger alcohol or drug abuse. For example, your loved one may have suffered from neglect or physical or sexual abuse, and turned to alcohol or drugs to cope with the feelings of shame or guilt. Or your loved one may have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event and now they’re trying to cope with PTSD symptoms.
While turning to drugs or alcohol is never the right answer, your loved one probably didn’t expect or want to develop an addiction.
4. Your Loved One’s Mental Health Can Influence an Addiction
Mental health issues like depression or anxiety can occur as a result of increased drug use, but they can also be what sparks your loved one’s addiction in the first place.
People suffering from mental health disorders like depression, anxiety or bipolar disorder are typically just looking for a way to relieve their symptoms. They may be ashamed to ask for help with their mental health or feel like they’ll be judged. So instead, they turn to substance use. While this may provide short term relief, it turns into a more serious long-term dual diagnosis disorder.
Try to think about your loved one’s behaviors before drugs or alcohol were involved. See if you can identify any signs that would indicate your loved one was struggling with their mental health. This could very well be the reason your loved one started using drugs or alcohol in the first place.
Get Your Loved One the Help They Deserve at The Raleigh House
At The Raleigh House, we work with your loved one in our residential treatment program to help them get to the bottom of their addiction. Beyond that, we can teach them new and healthy ways to cope with stress, anxiety and other issues that may have led to their substance abuse in the first place.
There is hope for your loved one to recover and become the person you once knew again. Fill out our form or contact us today to learn more about our approach and addiction treatment programs.