It all starts with casual use; we’re out with coworkers one day, having a few drinks – or we’re spending time with friends and drugs become introduced. In most cases, addiction starts when a person begins using substances for recreation – but over time, recreational use intensifies until a full-blown addiction has developed. It’s hard to fathom how this process works, especially when it can happen so quickly. The human mind and body are incredibly vulnerable to drugs, however – and without warning, we can become dependent on substances whether we originally meant to or not.
The Association for Psychological Science (APS) explains that drug-seeking begins as a goal-directed behavior with an action (such as finding substances and taking them). Through this process, a “high” is developed – and that involves the euphoric feeling that is pursued from the beginning. The stimulation from drugs feels positive, and over time, subtle “cues” can reinforce the good feeling that comes from using, such as:
- The environment of being surrounded by people who are also using and having a good time
- The smell of burning aluminum foil used for drugs
- The sight of powdery, white ingredients
- And more
In 2016, Medical Daily identified the pattern of using substances and receiving positive reinforcements as well as desires to increase use as a “habit loop”; essentially, it takes 66 days for a person to develop a habit (whether that be with exercise, food, substance abuse or something else), and drugs can fast-track this process depending on the amount consumed, the type of drug, how often the drug is used and other related factors.
Habits tend to transition into addiction without a person even realizing it. It can be a slow, gradual development or a quick one – but nonetheless, if steps aren’t taken to intervene, the pattern will only continue.
Cumberland Heights is a nonprofit alcohol and drug addiction treatment center located on the banks of the Cumberland River in Nashville, Tennessee. On a sprawling 177-acre campus, we are made up of two 12-Step immersion campuses, 12 outpatient recovery centers and 4 sober living homes. We believe that each person has a unique story to tell – and that’s why we always put the patient first. For more information, call 1-800-646-9998 today.
For many years now, researchers have been exploring the exact linkages for what makes one person more likely to develop an addiction over another. Hereditary genes are one likely factor, along with a person’s social environment, age and overall development. Just as a certain personality trait, talent or eye color may become more prominent in family generations, so can addiction vulnerability. This genetic linkage could be related to the difficulty in which family members are able to quit using substances, or even the types of symptoms passed down from family members who have tried to quit. If you’re able to ask questions and get some good insight to how your family has experienced addiction, you may get a clearer understanding for your personal vulnerabilities towards it.
Just last year, researchers published a study in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence that sought to explore the differences between those with a family history of addiction versus those without. They found three main characteristics that led to individuals being more at-risk for developing addiction:
- Cognitive – poor working memory and decision making overall
- Reward-related – willing to make more risky decisions in order to experience rewards
- Emotional risk factors –being more likely to get emotionally heated in triggering situations
If you’ve been noticing a clear pattern in your family, and you’re afraid you may be at high-risk for addiction, it’s important to remember 2 things: 1) despite your genetics, you can make deliberate decisions to ensure you don’t go this route, and 2) you can always, always, ask for help when you need it. Recovery from addiction is absolutely possible and seeking this out could mean that you’re breaking the cycle of addiction – which gives both you and your family a new level hope and possibilities for the future.
There may be a lot of factors that make you vulnerability to developing an addiction, but that doesn’t mean that you’re destined to struggle with it at all. Genetics is just one puzzle piece to make sense of why addiction occurs – as humans, we have the capability to change and make different decisions that could place us in a position where addiction isn’t even a concern. No matter what your family has gone through, remember that you have the power to change the story. After all, it’s your story – and it’s time to break the cycle.
Cumberland Heights is a nonprofit alcohol and drug-addiction treatment center located on the banks of the Cumberland river in Nashville, Tennessee. On a sprawling 177-campus, we are made up of 2 twelve-step immersion campuses, 12 outpatient recovery centers and 4 sober living homes. We believe that each person has a unique story to tell – and that’s why we always put the patient first.
Call us today at 1-800-646-9998 to take the next step towards your happiness and health.