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Causes of Drug Addiction

The causes of drug addiction are diverse but can be explained by discussing physical and psychological rewards.  Addiction is described as actions that or substance taking that become compulsive or habitual, taking precedence over other needs, often with serious adverse consequences.  This is due to the repeated dosing of the drug.  The common feature of the causes of drug addiction is that nearly all produce a rewarding effect causing activation of a pathway in the brain called the mesolimbic dopaminergic pathway.  Other less prominent rewards include elevated endorphin release or craving reduction.  This rewarding effect can become so strong that satisfying it overrides normal daily activities such as eating, sleeping, and going to the bathroom.

There no single causes of drug addiction leading to this type of behaviour.  Of the physical causes of drug addiction, drug tolerance could be considered a major culprit.  Drug tolerance occurs when the body becomes “ used to” the drug.  This essentially means more drug must be given to achieve the desired effect.  Other causes of drug addiction actually result from going “cold turkey.”  The side effects of removing an existing drug treatment become so severe that the patient chooses to re-initiate administration of the drug.  This cause of addiction has both physical and psychological indications. 


Causes of Drug Addiction
Causes of Drug Addiction

Psychological reasons contributing to causes of drug addiction often outlast the physical withdrawal symptoms.  Often, relapse occurs after many years simply because the former addict cannot stop thinking of the good things associated with taking a drug.  Of the list of addicting drugs, heroin and morphine have the highest rate of addiction and relapse.

Some schools of thought argue for genetic causes of drug addiction.  Studies of families with addictions clearly indicate susceptibility as an inherited trait.  Many genes have been identified though the general consensus is that each of these genes small contributions to the overall susceptibility of the person. 

Precise causes of drug addiction cannot be pinpointed and are under continued investigation.