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The Factors Which Determine Substance Abuse

Substance abuse is an emerging issue that deteriorates the population’s health and increases the crime rate. It is often a chronic condition that results in the cardiovascular, lung, mental diseases, and the death of the abuser. Some time ago, people argued that addiction is only a mental state but not a disease. At present, many scientists and doctors recognize the condition as a disorder in which treatment is complicated and extensive (Fletcher et al., 2015). The illness is determined by a neurobiological response to substance and related symptoms, such as the transformation of behavioral patterns, self-isolation, and regression.

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There has been a controversy about whether substance abuse is a disorder. The condition is often related to only behavioral changes, which confused many researchers. However, at the beginning of the 21st century, it was discovered that long-term exposure to a substance may worsen the brain’s function and change its structure (Fletcher et al., 2015). That is why worldwide drug abuse centers defined addiction as an illness of the central nervous system.

The primary aspect by which any addiction is identified is a rewarding system. All substance abusers, as well as process abusers, report that they get pleasure and fulfillment after using the object of addiction. This is explained by the neural system of the human organism. When a person obtains a certain amount of the drug or alcohol, high dopamine levels are released as a response. The brain’s receptors for dopamine trigger the temporary rewarding sensation. Then, the individual seeks more substance, even after lessening the pharmacological effect. The addict gradually loses interest in natural rewards and becomes dependent on a substance. Drug or alcohol use also affects the release of neurotransmitters other than dopamine, which are responsible for mood swings, motivation loss, memory deterioration, and anxiety (Koob & Volkow, 2016). Thus, the nervous system’s reaction to the increase of neurotransmitters resulting from substance introduction is the reason behind compulsive behavior.

The early studies on addiction strongly correlated it with only drug ingestion. Later, the term was characterized as an obsession with any substance or process, such as eating, gaming, or internet use. Any addiction symptoms include salience, mood and behavioral change, withdrawal from society, and relapse. However, the main difference between substance and behavioral addiction is that the first one involves the ingestion of chemicals into an organism, which frequently leads to physical disorders (Loxton & Tipman, 2017). As a result, substance and process abuses are similar in their effect on the patient’s nervous system and mood, but the latter does not introduce toxic chemicals to the body.

People with traumatic experiences and depression have a higher risk of developing an addiction. According to Schimmenti et al. (2017), children from families with low socioeconomic status and those who were exposed to violence by their parents are more prone to use a substance in their adulthood. Victims of molestation and cruelty report finding a sense of false help and pleasure in narcotics or liquors. Besides, psychological illnesses like bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and depression make a person vulnerable to addiction. The self-medication of drugs such as cannabis is popular since they are perceived to treat stress and anxiety (Schimmenti et al., 2017). Hence, people with other psychological diseases and traumas are in danger of developing an obsession.

Some biological factors increase the potential of being addicted to a substance. An Individual’s predetermination is frequently linked to their family portfolio, gender, and age. For instance, women seem to be more susceptible to drugs and their toxicological side effects (Loxton & Tipman, 2017). The chance of gaining an addiction at a younger age is much higher than at an older age. People under the age of 30 are a risk group for substance abuse (Buccelli et al., 2016). Moreover, there is a possibility of being susceptive to substance for the person who has a history of addict parents. Addiction is often correlated with genetics since there are many records of families who have a behavior of smoking or drinking. It does not seem to depend on whether they live together or separately. There are cases when people become addicted, even though they have never seen their relatives (Schimmenti et al., 2017). Therefore, not only society and the presence of mental disorders can be responsible for the condition.

The consideration of a person’s race or ethnicity proves to be unnecessary when evaluating the cause of addiction. Some people suggest that certain nations or races are more prone to have a drinking or drug-using habits. Nonetheless, studies illustrate the insignificance of demographics and ethnic origin in affecting compulsive behavior (Pagano et al., 2018). Thus, a person’s predisposition to substance addiction should not be related to their ethnicity.

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To sum up, substance addiction is a disease that affects the patient’s behavior and physical well-being. It is always associated with mood modification, dependence, hostile attitude, social isolation, and chemical intoxication. Individuals with mental illnesses and violent experiences at a younger age are often at risk of developing substance abuse. Additionally, biological factors, such as sex, age, and genetics, can determine the predisposition to addiction.


Buccelli, C., Della Casa, E., Paternoster, M., Niola, M., & Pieri, M. (2016). Gender differences in drug abuse in the forensic toxicological approach. Forensic Science International, 265, 89-95. Web.

Fletcher, K., Nutton, J., & Brend, D. (2015). Attachment, A Matter of Substance: The potential of attachment theory in the treatment of addictions. Clinical Social Work Journal, 43(1), 109-117. Web.

Koob, G. F., & Volkow, N. D. (2016). Neurobiology of addiction: A neurocircuitry analysis. The Lancet Psychiatry, 3(8), 760-773. Web.

Loxton, N. J., & Tipman, R. J. (2017). Reward sensitivity and food addiction in women. Appetite, 115, 28–35. Web.

Pagano, A., Gubner, N. R., Le, T., Yip, D., Williams, D., Delucchi, K., & Guydish, J. (2018). Differences in tobacco use prevalence, behaviors, and cessation services by race/ethnicity: A survey of persons in addiction treatment. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 94, 9-17. Web.

Schimmenti, A., Passanisi, A., Caretti, V., La Marca, L., Granieri, A., Iacolino, C., Gervasi, A.M., Maganuco, N.R., Billieux, J. (2017). Traumatic experiences, alexithymia, and Internet addiction symptoms among late adolescents: A moderated mediation analysis. Addictive Behaviors, 64, 314–320. Web.

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