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What makes some people addicts and others not?
That’s a great question and one that I’m sure more and more of us are asking as the number of deaths by overdose has been skyrocketing in recent months.
At dinner the other night, a group of us (who also just so happen to work in the behavioral health field) were discussing this question: Why do some of us grow up to be “normal” while others of us become hooked on some substance to such a degree that we are no longer able to function with even the slightest degree of normalcy?
Is it genetics? If so, then how can there be such variance within families, with only certain cousins, brothers, nieces, etc. manifesting an addiction?
Is it a question of morals? Do some of us just have a better character by which we choose the higher road? We do as Nancy Reagan recommended and always “just say no” to substances.
Or is it just entirely random? Forget genetics and morals, Fate be damned; in the end, it’s just luck of the draw – there is no explaining it.
Sorry to say, as intelligent as we like to think ourselves and despite our good intentions, my friends and I were unable to come to any conclusive response to our question.
One thing was clear to us, however. Addiction is real and it’s deadly. Regardless of who manifests it and why or how, people are dying – at an alarming rate. And given that addiction is so perplexing and its cause seemingly so elusive, the problem warrants an equally complex set of solutions.
The menu of options currently available is helping some, but it’s still failing far too many. We as a community need to get creative in how we are combating addiction. No non-violent option should be kept off the table and addiction services should be a top-priority on every budget right now, for the benefit of public health and public safety.
This is no time to “make do”. We need to fight for services like our lives depend on it – because they do.
That’s honestly such a great question! It’s hard to really come up with one definite answer as to how or why some people become addicts but I think there’s a bunch of different reasons… & combined, there’s the answer. People live completely different lives.. have different stressors, different coping skills, different access to resources.. just overall different circumstances. Because of all of those differences, I think people find different ways to handle things and while I def think that some of it can be completely genetic, I think another part of it is just mostly personality and coping skills. Some people honestly have addictive personalities so perhaps some of those people are more prone to get addicted to the very thing that helps them feel “normal”, which is probably a behavior or drug of some sort.
There’s so many different factors and different ways to spin it but no matter the reason, there are addicts and people on the verge of becoming addiction, so we most certainly need to continue to fight the good fight.
Can’t wait to read more of your blog!
Thank you Rai! Yes I agree, there are so many different factors which play a role.
One interesting analogy I’d heard recently was that if people have a greater range of sources for pleasure, how they may be less likely to become hooked on one particular substance, since they have a variety of pleasure providing activities to help sustain their well being.
On the other hand, I do believe that the substances themselves (due to their potency) are a recipe for disaster with anyone, most especially those who have certain neurological and personality predispositions for addiction.
I also believe mental health plays a huge role – if people were screened earlier and given successful treatment, the appeal of some of these substances and their ability to help a person feel “normal” may be reduced.
And the economics can’t be ignored – the Black Market provides huge profits for gangs, smugglers and organized crime such as the cartels. If some of these illegal substances were readily available and controlled by doctors rather than criminals, it may serve as a disincentive for drug pushers.
Whatever the reasons, I believe we need as many people as possible working on these issues to better brainstorm solutions!
I think we all have our addictions. Some bad, some good. Alot of it has to do with your environment and the people around you but there are many other small factors.
I agree, many of us do consider ourselves “addicts” of one sort or another (I jokingly have referred to myself as a “recovering social addict”) however I think there’s a difference between being passionate or even obsessive about something, versus having a bona fide addiction which interferes with life functions and causes distress. I’m more concerned with the latter sort of crippling addiction.
And yes I believe environment plays a key and essential role in who does and does not develop an addiction. I find this true with myself and from what I understand, psychology provides evidence for this as well. If one’s environment is over or under stimulating, if violence and trauma are common, if there isn’t fresh air, clean water, nourishing food or sunlight, one may resort to other more means and become dependent and/or addicted.
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