What is addiction?

Addiction is when an individual has an intense desire to use a certain substance(s), such as drugs or alcohol, and eventually it begins to take over their entire life.

Why does addiction happen?

  • It is a brain disease that causes both psychological and physical dependence on alcohol, drugs or another behavior
  • The brain produces dopamine, a “feel good” neurotransmitter, when alcohol or drugs are consumed. However, repetitive use of these substances causes the brain to be unable to produce regular amounts of dopamine. This then causes individuals to struggle with finding enjoyment in their day-to-day lives without being under the influence
  • When a person is repeatedly consuming a substance, this individual starts to develop a tolerance. This tolerance then forces a person to consume/use greater amounts of a specific substance to achieve the same feeling and effect they had in the beginning

Others reasons addiction may occur


Genetics, having a mental health disorder, the environment

  • Genetics play a big part in addiction as well. Unfortunately, addiction is hereditary, meaning that it runs throughout the family.  This does not mean that every child you have will develop an addiction. However, it does increase the likelihood, so it is important to be aware of this and know about your family history.
  • “Research estimates genetics account for 40 to 60 percent of a person’s likelihood of developing a substance use disorder.” (Addiction center.com)

Mental Health Disorder

Young adults suffering from mental health disorders are more at risk to develop patterns of substance abuse compared to those who are not suffering from mental health. This is because if an individual is already suffering mental health problems like depression, they may use drugs or alcohol as a way to self-medicate. For a short period of time, the drugs or alcohol may help them cope.  However, abusing substances will eventually lead to greater side effects and it usually worsens the particular symptoms they were trying to medicate initially. A young adult may feel as though they need to consume larger amounts of alcohol or drugs because their mental health symptoms seem to persist or get worse, which may lead to a co-occurring disorder of a mental health problem and Substance Use Disorder.

The Environment

The environment your young adult grows up in may also contribute to addiction. If they grow up in a community that seems to have a more favorable outlook on the use of drugs or alcohol their risk of using these substances may increase. This goes along with the fact that if they are around friends and peers who are partaking in substance use, they are going to either feel pressured to tag along or interested in trying it out.

The young person’s home environment is important too. If a child is in an environment where there is maltreatment or traumatic events like sexual or physical abuse, research states children are seven times more likely to begin using alcohol or drugs.

What are Commonly Abused Drugs?

  • Alcohol
  • Club Drugs Examples: MDMA (Ecstasy or Molly), GHB (Liquid G or Liquid X), Ketamine (Special K or K) and Rohypnol (Roofies)
  • Cocaine
  • Fentanyl
  • Heroin
  • Marijuana
  • Opioids
  • Prescription Medicines
  • Methamphetamine
  • Hallucinogens
  • and several others

Myths and Facts About Addiction

Addiction happens because of lack of willpower or self-discipline Addiction occurs as a result of chemical changes in the brain caused by drugs or alcohol
Only children who have no talents or academic potential become addicted to alcohol or drugs Addiction impacts children of all abilities, from high achievers to kids with more moderate gifts
Only children from impoverished backgrounds get involved with drugs or alcohol Addiction impacts children from all socioeconomic groups
A relapse back into drug or alcohol use means that rehab has failed Addiction is defined as a chronic, relapsing disorder.
Many people experience relapses before being able to maintain long term recovery
Once a young adult gets involved with drugs or alcohol, they will never succeed in life Many young people have built happy, fulfilling lives after being treated for substance use
Addiction will inevitably destroy a family With the right support therapists and addiction professionals, families can strengthen their bonds through treatment



National Geographic – The Science of Addiction: Here’s Your Brain on Drugs