Why Do People Get Addicted to Drugs? Understanding the Root Causes of Addiction and How a Rehab Center Can Help

what are the root causes of addiction

Addiction is a serious, complex disorder characterized by compulsive, dangerous substance abuse and the inability to control one’s drug/alcohol intake. Nobody chooses to get addicted, though. Although it may be a choice to pick up the first drink or drug, addiction is not a choice–it is a legitimate mental and behavioral health condition that requires professional, evidence-based treatment.

If addiction isn’t a choice, how does it develop then? What makes people get addicted to drugs in the first place? The truth is there are many root causes of addiction and underlying factors that drive substance abuse. One of the most important parts of addiction treatment is to overcome the root causes of your substance abuse so you can stay sober in the long run.

Common Root Causes of Addiction

Anyone can get addicted to drugs or alcohol–addiction isn’t discriminate. However, there are certain risk factors that increase the likelihood of substance abuse issues. These same risk factors are often at the root of drug or alcohol addiction.

Mental Illness

Up to 50% of people who struggle with addiction also have a mental health condition, and nearly 50% of people with mental health conditions struggle with addiction at some point in their lives. Because of the strong correlation between mental health and addiction, mental illness is thought to be one of the primary underlying causes of addiction.

Mental health conditions that can increase the risk of addiction include, but are not limited to:

  • Anxiety disorders
  • Depression
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Borderline personality disorder
  • Avoidant personality disorder

Living with mental illness can be extremely difficult. For example, people who struggle with depression experience chronic feelings of sadness, loneliness, hopelessness, and low motivation. Coping with these symptoms isn’t easy, and they can make everyday life difficult. Individuals with depression may rely on drugs or alcohol to elevate their mood or numb their emotional pain. In fact, approximately one-third of people with depression have a co-occurring substance use disorder.


Trauma comes in many different forms ranging from physical or emotional abuse or neglect to combat, natural disaster, and violent crime. Traumatic experiences affect the way you think, feel, behave, and interpret the world around you. They can also lead to feelings of despair, depression, anxiety, helplessness, and isolation.

Dealing with trauma is never easy, but some people have a harder time than others. Desperate for relief, people who are struggling with trauma often turn to drugs or alcohol to numb the pain. As a result, experiencing trauma or re-occurring trauma can greatly increase the risk of addiction.

Childhood trauma has a particularly strong correlation with developing an addiction later in life. Studies have found that 59% of young people who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) experience substance abuse issues or addiction when they get older.

Genetics & Family

Everyone’s DNA is different, but researchers have found that about 50% of your risk for addiction comes from your genetic makeup. You’re also more likely to struggle with addiction if one or both of your parents did, too. After all, growing up in a household where a parent is struggling with addiction can lead to immense turmoil and instability in the home.

Treating the Root Causes of Addiction at a Drug and Alcohol Rehab Center

Addiction recovery is about more than just putting the drugs and alcohol down. If you manage to get sober, but you don’t treat the underlying causes of your addiction, you’re likely to relapse and struggle with substance abuse issues again in the future. As a result, one of the most important parts of addiction treatment is discovering and treating the root cause of your substance abuse.

Comprehensive Assessment & Personalized Treatment Plan

In order to treat the root cause, you must determine what it is. Drug rehab centers accomplish this by taking you through a comprehensive physical and mental health assessment. By dedicating time to learning about your medical history, past experiences, substance abuse patterns, and treatment history, rehab centers can determine your needs and create an individually-tailored treatment plan.

At Sheer Recovery, our thorough assessment and evaluation will diagnose any mental health issues and identify any other underlying issues you may be suffering from so we can treat you to the best of our ability.

Correcting Chemical Imbalances

Chemical imbalances resulting from mental health or substance abuse can contribute to cravings and drug or alcohol relapse. To fully address the root cause of your issues, you must correct any chemical imbalances you are experiencing. A comprehensive medical team will assess your situation, determine if a chemical imbalance is present, and take the appropriate steps to regulate your brain chemistry.

Behavioral Therapy

Behavioral therapies like cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) can help you identify problematic thoughts and behaviors so you can replace them with healthier alternatives. These therapies are used to treat addiction, but they were originally designed to treat mental health conditions.

In therapy, your counselor will help you identify and treat the root cause of your addiction. You will also learn healthy coping skills that can be used to maintain your sobriety.

Discover and Address the Root Cause of Your Addiction at Sheer Recovery

At Sheer Recovery, we know that addiction is about more than just drugs and alcohol. That’s why our clinical team is dedicated to treating both the psychological and physical root causes of your addiction so you can achieve lasting recovery.

Our experienced clinical team, combined with a private, luxurious state-of-the-art facility, offers the perfect environment to heal from your addiction and get your life back on track. Start your recovery today by calling now and speaking with one of our dedicated admissions counselors.


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