What Can Trigger Drug Addiction?

What Can Trigger Drug Addiction?

Drug addiction is a disease of both the brain and the body. It’s also known as substance use disorder, which can be alcohol use disorder or drug use disorder. Addiction to substances triggers behaviors beyond your control that renders the addict unable to help himself in their usage of drugs, alcohol, medication, or cigarettes, regardless if they’re legal or illegal. Addictive substances such as marijuana, opioids, alcohol, and nicotine are considered as drugs just as much as their illicit counterparts such as meth, cocaine, and heroin.

After you’ve become addicted to drugs or alcohol, you’ll become physically and mentally compelled to use the substance, regardless of the spiral of self-destruction happening before you that should otherwise force you to stop. Drugs can ruin your life, your brain, and your body, and not necessarily in that order. With that in mind, what triggers drug addiction among users exactly?

The Myriad of Addiction Triggers Out There

Funnily enough, many of the same triggers you should avoid after you’ve undergone drug and alcohol rehab in order to prevent relapse are also the triggers that can push you towards becoming an addict for the first time in your life. Things like peer pressure, social pressure, bad upbringing, bad influences in your neighborhood, poverty, richness, easy access to drugs, accidental overdosing with prescription medication, normalization of alcohol and marijuana use among your friends and family, a high-stress job, a broken home, domestic or child abuse, biological tendencies to become addicted.

  • Addiction Starts Small and Works Its Way Up: They’re the triggers that turn a normal person into an addict, but they don’t usually work like a light switch either. Drug addiction isn’t a problem that’s immediately obvious. Both great and horrible things start from small beginnings. Becoming addicted to drugs and alcohol can sometimes start with simple recreational use or even a one-time experiment. Even legal drugs you use for the sake of your health, like painkillers to dull injury or surgery pain, can be highly addictive if you use the outside their prescribed dosages and strengths. When you use a drug often enough, it becomes a necessity in your mind and as far as your body is concerned.
  • Individual or Case-by-Case Basis: How fast can people get addicted? What’s the overall addiction risk? It depends on the person. It also depends on how potent and addictive the drug in question is. Yes, dosages and potency can be considered as addiction triggers in and of themselves. The addictiveness of a drug depends on the method of administration too. For instance, smoked or injectable drugs tend to affect your brain right away, which means they’re the more addictive methods of drug addiction compared to other administration methods like eating drug-laced brownies or topical usage.
  • Chasing the High: Chasing your first high can also lead to addiction as time passes by. Over time, a user might attempt to chase the high he achieved when he first used a drug. This is because desensitization makes it so that using the same drug over and over makes it less effective over time unless you were to up your dosage. Every time you use a drug it becomes less effective, so you have increase its dose to make it more effective and achieve the same effects you’ve experienced before when you were first consuming it at lower dosages and in less frequent intervals.
  • Finally Achieving Addiction: Once you’ve chased a high enough times, your body will cease to function “normally” unless you have your regular dose of the drug or alcoholic drink. You’ve normalized in your mind and body usage of the substance, resulting in you feeling terrible or sick whenever you stop using the drug. This is the primary characteristic of someone who’s addicted. You might be an addict if you stop the drug and then immediately suffer the consequences in the form of cravings and a feeling of sickness. These are symptoms of withdrawal that establishes how you can’t function without first consuming the drug first. You’ve literally become dependent on the substance to live.

Causes of Drug Addiction

Depressed girl catching antidepressant pills sitting on a couch in the living room at home

Just like any other problem of the mind and body, a variety of factors or triggers can usually contribute to the eventual condition of addiction. The most common of these causes of drug addiction that in themselves can be considered as triggers towards becoming an addict include the following:

  • Genetics: Some people are simply more predisposed to become addicts compared to others. Depending on your unique collection of DNA and inherited characteristics from your parents, their parents, and your collective ancestors, you might react to a particular drug in different ways mentally and physically. Whatever is encoded in your genes or whatever your inherited traits are can result in different reactions to the drugs you take. Specifically, such traits can slow down or speed up the way the addiction disease develops in you.
  • Environment: Long story short, just as your character can develop depending on nurture versus nature, so too is your predisposition towards drug addiction. Certain environmental factors can determine whether your drug usage can escalate to drug addiction, although a total lack of drug usage or drug abstinence, if possible, should reduce your addiction risk significantly. These factors include your family’s use of drugs, your beliefs and attitudes towards drug usage, the presence of drugs in your home, your educational opportunities, exposure to a peer group that encourages or at least tolerates drug abuse, and your access to healthcare.

Genetics and Drug Addiction

According to the National Institute of Health or NIH, 50 percent of your drug addiction and alcoholism risk is determined by genetics. Meanwhile, your disposition to engage in certain behaviors can be influenced by these three genetic factors.

  1. Capability: Genetics can determine whether you’re physically capable of becoming an addict or you have the genes needed to resist addiction even after consuming loads of drugs. This is your physical or psychological ability to engage in addictive behavior or your resistance thereof.
  2. Motivation: Both the reflective or automatic mental processes that guide your behavior are what determine motivation. This includes your more conscious, chosen attitudes when it comes to using drugs and the euphoric, emotional sensations you go through right after drug usage. You can develop an emotional and logical attachment towards addiction.
  3. Opportunity: Social and physical factors within your environment, which includes your age when you first used drugs, can either promote or constrain addictive behavior. So like crime, you need capability, motivation, and opportunity in order to develop addiction. Lacking one or two of these can help mitigate drug addiction.

At any rate, like with any disease you have a family history for, you should be forewarned of your genetic predisposition for drug addiction so that you can consciously avoid the triggers that could lead to your development as an addiction. What’s more, since genetics is only 50 percent of your risk towards drug addiction, you can use the other 50 percent, environmental factors, to combat your genetic or hereditary addiction risk.

Environment and Drug Addiction

Anonymous man cooking heroin, drug abuse concept

Changing environmental factors can prove difficult, particularly when it comes to poverty or socioeconomic status. However, there are methods to go about decreasing your unfavorable environmental factors in order to work against drug addiction. You can even prevent addiction to happen altogether. It’s all about cognition or awareness of the triggers.

When it comes to addiction development, environment definitely plays a significant role. This is because for the majority of people in human society, environment tends to influence behavior every time. Environmental factors can therefore lead to becoming a drug addict, and they incidentally include the following:

  • Socioeconomic status
  • Absence of social support
  • Use of drugs among peers
  • History of abuse or neglect
  • History of compulsive behavior
  • Stress and ability to cope with it
  • Parental and familial involvement

In particular, you can delay the onset of drug use entirely by avoidance or substitution of more positive hobbies. Another tactic involves nurturing environmental motivators when it comes to positive behavior, which includes job training and educational attainment. Fill in the gaps in your life with positive things rather than indulging in hedonism or excessive consumption to deal with our boredom or existential emptiness.

Such positive actions can counter environmental factors that can lead you to becoming an addict. Or you can also use your environment to your advantage in order to mitigate your drug risk, such as developing a strong support group against addiction or finding positive avenues for you to express yourself so that you won’t need to use drugs or alcohol in order to cope with life’s problems.

The Brain and Drug Addiction

Drug addiction changes your brain in significant ways. Or rather, the more you consume a drug, the more your brain normalizes that consumption to the point you become dependent on a substance you otherwise don’t need, negative side effects notwithstanding. Addiction specifically causes actual physical changes in your brain, such as alterations in the way the brain experiences pleasure. Excessive drug usage can modify certain neurons or nerve cells to make the brain more acclimated to using the drug.

It’s these neurons that communicate with one another to create sensations such as moods using chemicals known as neurotransmitters. Being addicted to drugs can alter the method by which neurotransmitters work in your brain, oftentimes in debilitating fashion. This is unfortunate since the brain serves as your body’s most complex organ and can even be technically considered the one organ that represents your person or consciousness the most.

In other words, drug addiction and substance abuse can affect your brain in the following regions:

  • Brain Stem: Your brain stem is the part of the brain that controls your breathing, sleeping, and heart rate. As such, drugs can alter all those functions, usually in a negative or unhealthy way.
  • Limbic System: The limbic system is arguably the part of the brain that drugs hit the most and hardest in terms of changes. It’s through this system that your brain allows you to experience emotional rewards, thus doling out feelings of pleasure and motivation that in turn enable you to undertake day-to-day actions you must accomplish to survive.
    Yes, motivation is a genetic addiction trigger instead of an environmental one because the limbic system is responsible for facilitating it. In short, you get pleasure from things like sex and eating to ensure survival. The limbic system works with the assistance of neurotransmitters, the same ones that drugs can also alter.
  • Cerebral Cortex: Your executive or higher-level functions are controlled by your cerebral cortex, and they include things like the processing of sensory information, decision-making, and planning. Certain drugs can alter your cerebral cortex in a negative way where you lose I.Q. points or in a positive way, where your creativity and focus improves but at the cost of you depending on the drug to remain focus instead of naturally being focused.

Risk Factors for Developing Addiction

drug use, crime, addiction and substance abuse concept - close up of drugs with  money, spoon and syringe

Risk factors and protective factors for drug and alcohol addiction can be either environmental or genetic. People of any economic status, race, age, and sex can go through substance abuse and dependence. Your ability to become an addict to drugs and/or alcohol is something you share with all other humans. With that said, there are risk factors you should be aware of that can increase or decrease your addiction risk.

  1. Family History: Like with certain diseases, if you have drug addicts in your family, there’s a chance that you might have inherited a tendency to abuse substances from your family tree. Drug addiction can run through families due to genetic reasons. However, a family of drug addicts can influence their children to use drugs because of environmental influence. Therefore, your risk of usage covers both fronts. If you have a drug addict blood relative, particularly a full sibling or a parent, then you have a higher addiction risk compared to someone who doesn’t.
  2. Mental Health Problems: Dual diagnosis in rehab centers exists exactly because mental health problems can serve as a trigger towards substance abuse and addiction. It doesn’t help that certain issues actually require you to take prescription drugs that are themselves addictive when taken too much. Regardless of whether or not the issue is diagnosed or whether or not you take medication for it, you will have a higher addiction risk due to its presence. Mental health problems can include post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD, bipolar personality disorder, depression, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder or ADHD, and anxiety.
  3. Adverse Childhood Experiences or ACE: Your risk for addiction rises if, during your childhood, you’ve undergone ACE such as sexual, physical, or emotional abuse. Drug usage for abused children can serve as their coping mechanism in order to escape the trauma they went through from undergoing ACE.
  4. Peer Pressure or Social Pressure: Social or peer pressure from friends, neighbors, coworkers, and acquaintances can serve as an addiction trigger, particularly for young people where peer pressure to use drugs in school in order to “belong” is at its strongest.
  5. Lack of Family Support: If there’s a lack of family support or involvement in your life, your risk for drug and alcohol addiction naturally rises. This is especially true in latchkey children or orphans since they typically lack supervision.
  6. Early Drug Use: If you’ve started using drugs or drinking alcohol early on in your teenage years or younger, you have a higher risk of becoming a drug addict or alcoholic later in your life. The youth are particularly susceptible to falling into the slippery slope of addiction.
  7. Using Highly Addictive Drugs: There are certain drugs that in and of themselves are highly addictive, so the usage itself of these particular substances serves as the addiction trigger. Avoid abusing powerfully addictive drugs like opioids, stimulants, cocaine, and so forth. Smoking or injecting drugs can also increase your addiction risk since these methods are known to make them more potent.

The Bottom Line

Across history, drug addicts were victim-blamed and maligned as morally weak. They were viewed as people who made bad choices and only have themselves to blame when it came to their addiction. However, this ancient “behavioral model” fails to take into account the biological changes triggered by addiction in the brain and body. What’s more, victim-blaming addicts for becoming addicts overlooks the comorbidity issue. To be more specific, loads of addicts also suffer from mental health problems such that drugs are what they depend on to self-medicate their issues. However, it’s actually drug addiction triggers both genetic and environmental that can push someone to become an addict.

Thankfully, rehabilitation centers like Lanna Rehab can treat such people through a service known as dual diagnosis. It diagnoses both the addict’s addiction to a particular drug or a host of substances as well as the underlying mental problems that might have pushed him to drug usage in the first place, which can include depression and PTSD. Even though the idea that drug addiction is a sign of bad character and a failure of will is waning in today’s more progressive society, it’s an idea that persists in some social circles in the world.

Lanna Rehab in Thailand Will Deal with Addiction Triggers

At Lanna Rehab, you’ll receive inpatient drug and alcohol rehab services targeted at getting to the root cause of your addiction. This then prepares you towards a life of sobriety. The rehab center will ensure that your aftercare needs are fulfilled by offering a relapse prevention plan that empowers you and other recovering addicts with the tools needed to face the challenges that follow rehabilitation. It essentially makes your recovery more relaxing and smoother.

Use their hotline in order to get from them booking information and more details regarding their inpatient program and its aftercare services. What are you waiting for? Call Lanna Rehab now and get checked in ASAP. Their lines are available 24/7.

Martin Peters

Martin Peters has a BA (Hons) Dip HE Dip RN CSAT III and is the Group Program Director Lanna Healthcare. He is a Registered Nurse and Certified Substance Abuse Therapist working in the mental health field since 1994; Martin has had a wide range of experience in management and supervisory roles within established healthcare systems, and has provided consultancy services to a number of private and public sector organizations in the UK and Asia in terms of management, policy writing, accreditation and recruitment. Martin’s addictions experience has been in developing inpatient services in Thailand since 2009, both clinical and operational. He has been instrumental in expanding and developing a non 12 step inpatient treatment centre and opening a further inpatient centre with a 12 step approach, implementing KIPU Electronic Records, strengthening hospital partnerships, introducing a Scholarship for students under the Masters in Addiction Studies Program at The ASEAN Institute for Health Development and working with an international accreditation body. Martin has also been a speaker at several international conferences on addiction, including ASEAN conferences and has also guest lectured at Mahidol University (Thailand), University of Sarghoda (Pakistan) Institute of Medical Sciences (Pakistan) and has been a representative on the CARF Standards Advisory Committee for 2016.In 2015. Martin became a Co-Founder of Lanna Healthcare, launching Lanna Rehab in March 2016 and opening Jintra in January 2018. In June of 2018, Martin was involved in the merger of Lanna and DARA, becoming Thailand's biggest private licensed operator. Martin is currently a Joint and Asia Health Co Ltd Owner Operator of Lanna Healthcare Co Ltd, which under its umbrella manages Lanna Rehab in Chiang Mai, Jintra Rehab in Chiang Mai and DARA Rehab in Koh Chang - all Thailand MoPH Licensed Addiction Facilities providing world-class treatment in Thailand.

Fully licensed by