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Four Reasons for Chemical Dependency

There are four causes to address when discussing being completely free of the need to use addictive substances or behaviors and living a healthy, happy and peaceful life.
1.      Chemical Imbalance
2.      Unresolved events from the past
3.      Beliefs the addict holds that are inconsistent with what is true.
4.      Inability to cope with current conditions.

Chemical imbalance is always the main culprit in dependency.  The addictive truly believes, and will transfer this thought pattern to anyone he or she comes into contact with, that the causes of dependency were actually outside themselves, but that is not the case. Chemical imbalance and beliefs the addict holds that are inconsistent with what is true exist within the addict. 

Those past events that are unresolved in the addict’s past live only in his or her mind, even though they may be faced with the results of those events every day of their lives.  The addict’s inability to cope with current conditions, while those conditions are outside influences, the addict’s inability to cope with them lies within themselves. 

All of the four causes of dependency are within the addict themselves, not family dynamics, environment, or genetics. Notice I do not list alcohol, drugs, gambling, uncontrolled sexual urges or behaviors as causes of dependency because they are not the causes, the dependency is only related to the addict’s personal choice of acting on the addictions in the first place.  IT IS A MATTER OF PERSONAL CHOICE – not an overwhelming urge to be an addict, that leads you down the road of repeated addiction and relapse.  Don’t put the drugs in your system – you are not an addict.  Don’t drink the first drink of alcohol – you are not an addict.  Stop watching pornography and acting on sexual urges – you are not an addict.

We have a new excuse for the addict and addiction that social workers, PhD’s and other personnel are spouting and that is that the addict is self-disposed to being an addict in his or her life due to genetics.  BULL. 

I do not list genetic tendencies as a cause of dependency for two reasons.  First, they are only tendencies and while they may predispose you to becoming dependent on alcohol and drugs, you do not have to become an addict just because your ancestors were dependent.  If we follow this chain of thought, we have to consider that some people have a genetic tendency to become, fat, but that doesn’t mean that will become fat or must become fat.  There are many people who are completely sober or can drink socially, even though their parents and grandparents were dependent on drugs and alcohol.

Social science experts that spout the genetics as a cause of dependency need to offer proof of this existence: Isolate the gene!  Scientists will never find just one single addiction gene. Susceptibility to addiction is the result of many interacting genes. Social and environmental factors contribute to this risk of addiction. It is becoming increasingly clear that genetic factors also weigh in. 

Like other behavioral diseases, addiction vulnerability is a very complex trait. Many factors determine the likelihood that someone will become an addict.

Case in point, I was raised by a violent chronic alcoholic father and a valium addicted drug addict for a mother in the 1960s and 70s.  My ancestry is full blooded Irish on my father’s side, so the stereotype of the hard playing, hard drinking Irish is true within my genetics.  My youngest son was a substance abuser for three years and has been clean twelve years.  My ex-husband was a violent chronic alcoholic and my current spouse has been addicted to cocaine dependency since the 1980s. 

With this genetic issue in play, I would have a predilection to being an addict or alcoholic if I followed the reasoning that genetics plays a part in dependency.  I have never used an illegal drug, abused prescription medications or drink.  I am not a goody two-shoes but I have never had a desire in my 55 years to allow alcohol or drugs into my system. 

Why? Because I realize that although circumstances outside my mind and body can affect my emotional, mental and physical conditions, I do not need a substance to alter reality in how I approach or overcome my problems.

The second reason I do not list genetics as a cause is that even though you may be genetically predisposed to become dependent, one or more causes must be present before you actually become dependent. 

Let us look at another reason that social scientists in this field believe is a cause for an addict’s dependency: environment.  A careful study of the genetic causes of addiction can provide a wealth of knowledge about the subject; however, one must not forget about environmental triggers and experiences.

Many anthropologists and other social scientists have made the case that social conditions matter, that is to say, that addiction “runs along the fault lines of society” (Neuroanthropology Blog). In the experiment described in this link, scientists showed that monkeys who were regularly dominated by other monkeys were much more likely to self-medicate with cocaine than those monkeys at the top of the social ladder.

Therefore, they theorized that the “derived stress from being dominated” played a significant role in the likelihood of drug abuse and addiction. An addict in his or her constant urge to use could be a direct result of his or her low status within the social structure. Also, the very fact that he is on the fringes of “accepted society” may actually be both a cause as well as a result of his addiction.

Additionally, a great amount of research has been dedicated to environmental triggers of abusive behavior. In the case of alcoholics, “one of the hallmarks…is a difficulty inhibiting responses for alcohol related stimuli” (ATTC).

For example, even though a recovering alcoholic may have no problem controlling their addiction in the comfort of their own home, the overwhelming urge to use when they walk by a favorite bar may simply be too much for them to handle.

The same is also true of addicts to other drugs. The stimuli from a smell, taste or place commonly attributed an environment of drug use can often set off strong memories of drug abuse for the addict. This process ultimately results in a powerful desire to use, even if they have been away from drugs for a considerable amount of time.

Furthermore, consider the environment in which an addict first experiences the substance(s) they have become addicted to. The use of drugs and alcohol is most certainly a learned behavior, as demonstrated by the cultural emphasis on learning ‘how’ to drink.

Therefore, the environment in which a person acquires the knowledge of how to use must be important to the formation of an addiction. As one site dedicated to the genetics and environmental causes of addiction puts it, “the biggest contributing factor to drug abuse risk is having friends who engage in the problem behavior” (Utah genetics).

In the case of the addict, it is quite likely that his first experience with drugs occurred with his peers. In this situation, the mutual support of using as a group became a benefit in itself. Also, having friends that use drugs serves as a powerful cultural force for continued experimentation. Thus, the combination of positive reinforcement and a receptive environment for drug use ultimately results in an increased likelihood for addiction.

These results, which have both a medical and societal impact, suggest that the living conditions of drug addicts should be taken into account in determining their therapy.  A real effort should be made to create enriched environmental conditions, providing patients with different types of social, physical and intellectual stimulation.  This also suggests that under deprived environmental conditions, treating addiction can be very challenging. 

Bottom line is this: addiction is an illness, not a disease. A disease is a medical condition that occurs through malfunctions of a body’s system and not voluntary.  Addiction is a matter of personal choice and can be stopped with abstinence from the addiction. 

In other words tell a cancer patient that addiction is a disease and watch their reactions. We need to stop worrying so much about what causes addictions and study how to provide effective treatment plans and environments conducive to positive reinforcements for the addict and help them become productive members of society.
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