Many people ask, “Is addiction a choice?” It’s natural to question whether this is a disease or voluntary action, particularly when addiction devastates not only the user but the people around them. Science has proven that addiction is not a choice, though. It is, in fact, a disease of the brain that can affect anyone. Addiction impacts the body and mind, causing symptoms such as:
- Deceitful and irresponsible behavior
- Mood swings
With these dramatic changes in personality, it’s easy for friends or family members to blame the person for their actions. But the reality is that these sudden out-of-character changes are usually manifestations of the withdrawal or dependency that comes with addiction.
What Is the Root of Addiction?
The root of addiction is often trauma. Studies have shown that up to 96% of people who seek drug rehab treatment for addiction have experienced some kind of traumatic event in their lives. They may have other diagnoses such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety or depression.
When people experience trauma, they often turn to outside sources for relief. That relief may come in the form of food, gambling, sex, drugs, shopping, to name a few. How do they spiral out of control? Because the initial relief from these activities can cause a change in the chemistry of the brain. This change can be so rewarding that the need to experience more relief results in addiction.
The amygdala, the area of the brain that detects threats, becomes overactive after a traumatic incident. As a result, this hyperactive brain state leads to feelings of anxiety, fear and vulnerability. On top of this, the hippocampus, the area of the brain that processes memories, becomes less active, changing how memories are stored. You see, trauma memories usually make their way to the brain’s long-term storage. This area of the brain keeps them safely “out of sight and out of mind.” But when a shocking event sends the hippocampus reeling, the memories may remain present, causing individuals to suffer through those intrusive thoughts day after day.
The cortex (the executive control center for functions in the body) is disrupted by this constant fight-or-flight feeling. As the mind locks into survival mode, a person may be unable to stop urges and negative behaviors as they usually would. As you can see, trauma can have a substantially damaging effect on the brain, driving a person to find relief, even if it causes harm in the long term.
Are Certain People Predisposed to Drug Dependency?
The people who are most likely to become addicted include those who have been victims of trauma. These events may include:
- Traumatic car accidents
- Natural disasters
- Serious illnesses
For example, studies have shown that up to 3 out of 4 people who survive violent trauma or abuse end up developing substance abuse problems. Around 33% of people who have survived accidents, natural disasters or illnesses report struggling with alcohol abuse..
Contact Calusa Recovery to Get Help with Substance Abuse
Addiction is not your fault, and you can get help to overcome it. The team at our men’s addiction center is focused on giving you the tools you need to overcome trauma and the root causes of addiction. Call us today at 844-254-9664 to find out more about our program and how we can help you break free of the cycle of addiction.