Development. Genetic and environmental factors interact with critical developmental stages in a person’s life to affect addiction risk. Although taking drugs at any age can lead to addiction, the earlier that drug use begins, the more likely it will progress to addiction. This is particularly problematic for teens. Because areas in their brains that control decision-making, judgment, and self-control are still developing, teens may be especially prone to risky behaviors, including trying drugs.
Anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts are all common results of alcohol dependency. This is because prolonged heavy drinking effects the neurotransmitters in the brain which regulate mood. Two of the most important neurotransmitters for mood are dopamine and serotonin, which are responsible for creating the positive feelings vital for a healthy mind. Research shows that the levels of both serotonin and dopamine are often heavily altered in the brains of alcoholics, leading to deteriorating mental health and, often, a negative spiral of alcohol use.
Medication may also be prescribed which can act as a substitute for your substance of abuse in the case of certain drugs where less addictive and damaging alternatives may be provided in the short term. Heroin addicts may be given methadone temporarily to replace heroin, from which they can then be weaned off with withdrawal symptoms that are much less unpleasant than those associated with heroin itself.
“Most drugs start off being rewarding,” former National Institute on Drug Abuse Director Dr. Glen Hanson told DrugRehab.com. “That gets the person interested in them… As the addiction proceeds, then some of that shifts. It goes from the reward being the attraction to a compulsive behavior. Compulsive behaviors aren’t necessarily rewarding behaviors.” *** ABOUT MY TIME IN REHAB: ALCOHOL REHAB STORIES
An influential cognitive-behavioral approach to addiction recovery and therapy has been Alan Marlatt's (1985) Relapse Prevention approach. Marlatt describes four psycho-social processes relevant to the addiction and relapse processes: self-efficacy, outcome expectancy, attributions of causality, and decision-making processes. Self-efficacy refers to one's ability to deal competently and effectively with high-risk, relapse-provoking situations. Outcome expectancy refer to an individual's expectations about the psychoactive effects of an addictive substance. Attributions of causality refer to an individual's pattern of beliefs that relapse to drug use is a result of internal, or rather external, transient causes (e.g., allowing oneself to make exceptions when faced with what are judged to be unusual circumstances). Finally, decision-making processes are implicated in the relapse process as well. Substance use is the result of multiple decisions whose collective effects result in a consumption of the intoxicant. Furthermore, Marlatt stresses some decisions—referred to as apparently irrelevant decisions—may seem inconsequential to relapse, but may actually have downstream implications that place the user in a high-risk situation.