Why Do Some People Become Addicted to Drugs and Alcohol?

Drug and alcohol addiction is a complex and multifaceted issue that affects individuals across the globe. Understanding the reasons behind addiction is crucial for developing effective prevention and treatment strategies. 

In this article, we will explore six major factors contributing to why some people become addicted to drugs and alcohol.

1. Genetic factors

Genetics can play a significant role in influencing an individual's risk of developing addiction. Research has shown that certain genetic factors can increase susceptibility to substance abuse and dependence. Here are some ways in which genetics influence drug and alcohol addiction risk:

Genetic variations 

Specific genes can affect how the body metabolizes drugs or alcohol, leading to differences in the way individuals respond to substances. For example, variations in genes involved in the metabolism of alcohol, such as the ADH and ALDH genes, can impact an individual's tolerance and sensitivity to alcohol.

Reward pathways

Genetic variations can influence the functioning of the brain's reward system, which plays a crucial role in addiction. Genes involved in the production and regulation of neurotransmitters like dopamine, which is associated with pleasure and reward, can influence an individual's response to drugs or alcohol. 

Behavioral traits

Certain genetic factors can contribute to personality traits or behaviors that increase addiction risk. For example, impulsivity, sensation-seeking, and risk-taking behaviors have been linked to genetic variations. 

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Family history

A family history of addiction can indicate a genetic predisposition to substance abuse. Studies have shown that individuals with parents or close relatives who have struggled with addiction are at a higher risk of developing an addiction themselves. This suggests that there may be inherited genetic factors that contribute to addiction vulnerability.

While genetics can influence addiction risk, it is important to note that genetics do not determine an individual's destiny. Environmental factors, such as upbringing, social influences, and personal experiences, also play a significant role in addiction development. 

2. Environmental factors

Environmental factors play a crucial role in shaping an individual's risk of addiction. Family dynamics, such as a history of substance abuse or lack of parental support, can contribute to the development of addiction. 

For example, growing up in a household where substance abuse is prevalent or where there is a lack of parental guidance and nurturing can increase the risk of developing substance abuse issues later in life. Factors such as parental substance abuse, poor family communication, and dysfunctional relationships can contribute to the normalization or acceptance of substance use.

Additionally, peer pressure and the influence of social circles can significantly impact an individual's decision to experiment with drugs or alcohol.

Adolescents and young adults are particularly susceptible to peer influence as they seek acceptance and social belonging. Being surrounded by peers who engage in substance abuse or who have positive attitudes toward drug and alcohol use increases the likelihood of experimentation and subsequent abuse.

3. Psychological Factors

Many people who struggle with substance abuse also have underlying mental health conditions. Some individuals may turn to drugs or alcohol to self-medicate and alleviate symptoms of mental illness. This includes the following conditions:

  • Anxiety disorder
  • Depression
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Chronic stress
  • Emotional trauma

On the other hand, substance abuse can also exacerbate or trigger mental health problems, leading to a vicious cycle of co-occurring disorders. 

Treating addiction and mental health issues simultaneously is crucial for successful recovery, as addressing one without the other often results in incomplete and less effective treatment outcomes.

4. Sociocultural factors

Societal norms and attitudes toward drug and alcohol use can significantly impact an individual's behavior and choices regarding substance use. These norms and attitudes shape perceptions, influence social acceptability, and can either discourage or facilitate substance abuse. Here are some key impacts of societal norms and attitudes:


If substance use is widely accepted or normalized within a society, it can contribute to higher rates of experimentation and continued use. When individuals perceive substance use as a common and socially acceptable behavior, they may be more inclined to try drugs or alcohol, especially during social events or peer gatherings.

Social pressure

Societal norms can create social pressure to conform to certain behaviors, including substance use. Peer pressure and the desire to fit in can influence individuals, particularly adolescents and young adults, to engage in substance abuse. The fear of being socially excluded or stigmatized can lead to participation in risky behaviors, including drug and alcohol use.

The Complex Web of Addiction Unraveling the Causes of Drug and Alcohol Addiction (1)

Perception of risk

Societal attitudes toward substance use can influence how individuals perceive the risks and consequences associated with drug and alcohol abuse. If a substance is perceived as relatively harmless or socially acceptable, individuals may underestimate the potential negative effects and be more inclined to experiment or engage in regular use.

Accessibility and availability

Societal attitudes toward drug and alcohol use can influence policies and regulations regarding their availability and accessibility. If substances are legally and readily available, they can contribute to increased use and abuse. Alternatively, stricter regulations and societal disapproval can deter and limit access to substances.

Treatment and support

Societal attitudes toward addiction can affect the availability of treatment options and support systems. If addiction is stigmatized or viewed as a moral failing rather than a treatable health condition, individuals may be less likely to seek help or receive support. Open and understanding attitudes toward addiction can foster a more supportive environment for those struggling with substance abuse.

5. Neurochemical and brain processes

The brain's reward pathway, often referred to as the mesolimbic pathway, is a complex network of structures that regulates feelings of pleasure, motivation, and reinforcement. Here’s how the brain’s neurochemicals contribute to the increased risk of substance addiction:

  • The key neurotransmitter involved in this pathway is dopamine. When we engage in pleasurable activities or experiences, such as eating delicious food or engaging in social interactions, dopamine is released, creating a sense of reward and reinforcing the behavior.
  • Drugs and alcohol hijack this natural reward system by triggering the release of large amounts of dopamine. They produce an artificially amplified sense of pleasure and euphoria far beyond what natural rewards can provide. 
  • This flood of dopamine overwhelms the brain's normal reward mechanisms, creating a powerful incentive to repeat the substance use behavior.
  • Over time, repeated drug or alcohol use can lead to adaptations in the brain. The brain becomes less responsive to natural rewards, and the individual becomes more dependent on the substance to feel pleasure or even to function normally. This is known as tolerance. 
  • Additionally, the brain undergoes changes in the reward pathway, leading to a decreased sensitivity to dopamine and a decreased ability to experience pleasure without the substance. This is known as dependence.

These changes in the reward pathway and neurotransmitter function are what drive the compulsive seeking and drug-seeking behaviors characteristic of addiction. The individual's brain becomes wired to prioritize the substance above other essential needs, leading to a loss of control over substance use.

6. Developmental factors

The age at which an individual initiates substance use can have long-term consequences for addiction risk. Early initiation is associated with a higher likelihood of developing addiction later in life. The developing brain of adolescents and young adults is particularly vulnerable to the harmful effects of drugs and alcohol.

How to overcome addiction with the help of Innovate Recovery?

Recovery from addiction is possible with the right treatment and support. Various treatment approaches, including counseling, therapy, medication, and support groups, are available to help individuals overcome addiction.

That’s why at Innovate Recovery, we offer a range of evidence-based treatment programs tailored to meet the unique needs of each client. This includes the following:

With a focus on personalized care, our rehab center in Los Angeles provides a safe and nurturing environment, empowering individuals to heal, develop healthy coping skills, and build a strong foundation for lasting sobriety.

Why Do Some People Become Addicted to Drugs and Alcohol?


We are a leading provider of comprehensive addiction treatment services dedicated to helping individuals overcome substance abuse and reclaim their lives. 

If you or a loved one is seeking effective and compassionate addiction treatment or inpatient detox near me, Innovate Recovery is here to guide you on the path to recovery. 

Recovery is just a phone call away. The next step is to contact us. 


If you greatly value privacy and comfort as you recover from substance abuse addiction, then our California luxury rehab is for you. 


The material contained on this site is for informational purposes only and DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THE PROVIDING OF MEDICAL ADVICE, and is not intended to be a substitute for independent professional medical judgment, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your health.

Frequent and chronic use of dangerous drugs (e.g., cocaine, heroin) typically leads to a much more severe disorder—drug addiction. Addiction or substance use disorder is a physical and psychological condition characterized by one’s inability to control the use of drugs, no matter the consequences.

As a result of addiction and long-term use, the body gradually develops a physical dependence on the harmful drug. So when you abruptly stop consuming addictive drugs, your body can experience several adverse effects from drug withdrawal.

Learn more about drug withdrawal, its signs and symptoms, and how drug rehab in San Fernando Valley can help you go through it safely. 

What is drug withdrawal?

Drug withdrawal refers to the process of discontinuing or reducing the intake of substance use. Once you cut back on drugs, your body will start to experience a variety of reactions called drug withdrawal symptoms.

Withdrawal symptoms happen due to the body’s acquired dependence on the specific drug. Since the body has been taught to function under the heavy influence of the illegal substance, over time, it will need the drug’s presence to exist in a stable condition. This stability becomes compromised when you suddenly take away the body’s drug of choice.

Withdrawal symptoms vary from person to person. Some may be life-threatening, while others may only experience mild to moderate symptoms. Additionally, drug withdrawal varies in severity and duration depending on a lot of factors, such as:

  • The type of drug used
  • The length of substance abuse
  • The drug’s potency and dosage
  • The current state of the patient’s health
  • Whether the patient undergoes self-detox or medically-assisted detox.

Drug withdrawal and detoxification play an important role in your journey towards getting clean and enjoying a healthy life. Fortunately, you don’t have to go through with it alone. You can get the medical and psychological support you need from the drug treatment center in Los Angeles.

What are the common signs and symptoms of drug withdrawal?

Substance abuse not only affects the physical body; it also affects one’s mental, cognitive, behavioral, and social well-being. The same goes for withdrawal. The body’s reaction to quitting these harmful drugs varies and may be categorized into different groups. Some examples of the most common symptoms of drug withdrawal include:


Physical symptoms are the actual manifestation of drug withdrawal, which can be seen by the naked eye or felt by the patient. Some examples of withdrawal symptoms that are consistent with almost all kinds of drug substances include:

  • Fatigue and lethargy
  • Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
  • Dehydration
  • Sweating, shakiness, and body tremors
  • Clammy skin
  • Tingling feeling on the skin
  • Muscle pain, cramps, and tension
  • Runny nose
  • Congestion
  • Increased appetite
  • Hot and cold flushes
  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure
  • Seizures for severe cases

Psychological and behavioral

Psychological symptoms refer to the effect of drug withdrawal on the patient’s mental well-being. It may also affect the way the patient thinks, behaves, and interacts with their surroundings during drug withdrawal. Some examples include:

  • Agitation and irritability
  • Sleeping problems or insomnia
  • Sudden mood changes
  • Nervousness
  • Restlessness
  • Hallucinations or sensory experiences that are only created by the mind. This includes seeing or hearing something that isn’t there.
  • Paranoia and delirium

The patient may also develop mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression during drug withdrawal. Unfortunately, this only worsens the psychological symptoms and makes withdrawal more difficult.


Cognitive symptoms are the effects of drug withdrawal on the patient’s brain and cognitive function. One of its most common cognitive effects is memory and concentration problems, which usually lead to confusion and disorientation. 

Moreover, drug abuse also impairs several cognitive abilities, so there’s no telling when normal brain function will return after withdrawal.

Where to seek treatment and support for drug withdrawal?

Drug withdrawal can be a scary and intimidating endeavor, with all the life-threatening symptoms that come with it. So, it’s vital to start the detoxification and withdrawal process in a safe and secure environment, such as a drug treatment center.

A drug detox or treatment center can help you overcome drug addiction by creating an individualized treatment plan to address your specific needs. They will also devise a plan of care during your detoxification process to avoid severe withdrawal symptoms. This may include the following:

  • Proper withdrawal management techniques
  • Counselling
  • Behavioral therapy
  • Psychiatric treatment
  • Psychoeducation
  • Aftercare plan

Withdrawal management programs do not end when your symptoms subside. It includes an aftercare treatment plan to give patients the right tools to manage their cravings and avoid relapse. It may also involve educating your loved ones so they can support you towards a full recovery.

Get the Support You Need at One of the Best Recovery Centers in Los Angeles County 

At Innovate Recovery, we provide exceptional patient care and evidence-based treatment programs to ensure a safe, effective, and long-lasting recovery for our patients. Our trained doctors and licensed health professionals will guide you every step of the way using advanced therapeutic modalities. 

Our Tarzana recovery center treats all kinds of substance abuse, including the following:

Recovery is just a phone call away! Contact Us now to get in touch with our trusted clinical staff and start your journey towards a healthy recovery! 


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The material contained on this site is for informational purposes only and DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THE PROVIDING OF MEDICAL ADVICE, and is not intended to be a substitute for independent professional medical judgment, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your health.

The effects of detoxing from cocaine can be mild to severe, depending on how much and when you took it. Symptoms may include: restlessness; an increase in heart rate or blood pressure (depending upon the individual); difficulty sleeping due to the intense energy levels that are often present during this phase).

It's important not only to monitor one’s physical health but also mental state while undergoing withdrawal because both will rapidly deteriorate without treatment - which brings us back full circle!).

Cocaine is a strong, powerful drug that affects your mental health and physical well-being. The speed at which it enters the bloodstream makes cocaine withdrawals more intense than other drugs with longer half-lives such as crack or heroin; even though these substances will have less of an effect on you during withdrawal periods because their effects wear off quickly after use (depending upon how much time has passed since last consumption).

On average people experiencing any form can expect mild complications like increased heart rate while severe side effects could include convulsions near death.

Cocaine is a powerful, addictive stimulant. It produces an intense high that lasts anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour and when it's gone you are left wanting more which can lead to some psychological symptoms such as comedowns or anxiety during the withdrawal process called "withdrawal."

Symptoms of Cocaine Withdrawal

Cocaine detox can be a difficult process, but it isn't anywhere near the intensity of other drug withdrawals. Withdrawal from coke will bring on some mental health issues such as difficulty concentrating or thinking quickly; Hostility may arise because you're no longer seeking out any more drugs in order to feel better - just trying desperately at least once while experiencing these physical symptoms that seem insurmountable without their medication! Paranoia/suspiciousness is also common during this time period due to both psychological factors (like having bad thoughts) coupled with inconveniences like lackluster sleep patterns.

Treatments for Cocaine Addiction Detox

Medications: When a person is addicted to cocaine, they will often turn towards medication as an alternative way of dealing with their problem. There are no FDA-approved medications available on the market specifically designed for this purpose but some may help in stabilizing mood and reducing depression which can lead someone back from using drugs altogether!

Behavioral Therapy: The behavioral therapy treatments that focus on changing behavior can be done either as part of an outpatient program or during stays in hospitals for more severe cases. The cognitive-behavioral technique teaches ways to help you avoid using cocaine by making your thoughts and feelings about the substance so it doesn't trigger cravings anymore, among other things.

The goal of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is to help you avoid using cocaine. CBT treatments focus on the idea that our actions are shaped by thoughts and attitudes, so it's important not only for individuals who struggle with addiction but also people living life fully every day because we all have potential flaws in ourselves which could lead us down unhealthy paths if left unchecked

As part of an outpatient program, behavioral therapies change behaviors through techniques such as reward schedules or punishment circuitry; certain songs may be played when someone achieves certain milestones-- rewards can include toys while naughty behavior deserves no treats!

Rewards: When you do not use drugs, there are many positive benefits. One way to get these rewards is by being rewarded for your good behavior with something that's important or means more than just money- like approval from family members who care about how things go in our lives! This can help teach us valuable skills such as building self-esteem and learning when it might be appropriate/safe enough not only to pause but also stop using any kind of illegal substances altogether if needed.



If you have a friend or family member who lives with an addiction, it’s only natural to think of how you can help. While it may not always be easy, providing your loved ones with the help they need to fight their addiction will give them a better chance of overcoming it. In this blog post, we discuss everything you need to know about drug and alcohol abuse, how codependency may affect relationships, and where to find help to combat addiction. 

Things to Do

Here are a few things you can put into practice when trying to help out a loved one cope and overcome their substance or alcohol addiction: 

Build Trust 

Start by building trust with them so that they’re more likely to listen to you. But if your loved one has already broken your trust before, it can take a while to establish it again. Keep in mind, however, that establishing trust is an important step towards helping them to change. 

  • Be honest by letting them know how their addiction has affected your relationship and life with them 
  • Stay supportive but respect their privacy — while you can’t force them to quit, you can be their source of strength 
  • Avoid actions that destroy trust such as: criticizing, nagging, lecturing, yelling, exaggerating, and name-calling. 
  • Engaging in substance abuse yourself

Expect Difficulties

Various reasons make it difficult for a loved one to quit their addiction. They may: 

  • Not be willing to change their habits 
  • Not think that they have a problem 
  • Feel embarrassed and be unwilling to discuss their addiction 
  • Not fear consequences such as going to prison or losing their job 
  • Feel awkward discussing their issues with a professional such as a counselor or doctor 
  • Be engaging in their addiction to avoid having to deal with other problems such as finances or a mental illness 

Unfortunately, there’s no way to instantly help someone with an addiction, and overcoming it takes a lot of support and effort. If a person doesn’t want to help themself by changing their behavior, then trying to convince them is unlikely to work. 

Things Not to Do

There are certain things that you’ll need to avoid doing to encourage the healthy recovery of your loved one:

  • Don’t threaten your loved ones by giving them an ultimatum, as this may cause them to hide their behavior 
  • Expect them to change immediately because recovery takes time and setbacks are likely to happen 
  • Don’t criticize your loved one as this may add to their shame and make them doubt their ability to quit 
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