What are the psychological causes of drug abuse?

Oct 20, 2021

There is no one reason individuals turn to drugs. Understanding the underlying causes of this behavior, however, can be help prevent and treat drug abuse. Keep reading to find out why some people seek out these addictive substances.
Justin Brown

Justin Brown

Justin Brown is the co-founder and CEO of Ideapod, a social network collecting and amplifying ideas that matter.

3 Main Psychological Causes of Drug Abuse

The main psychological causes of drug abuse are social isolation, unresolved trauma, and lack of social integration. As psychologists like Gabor Mate have [expressed], a lack of belonging and feeling socially unintegrated are often key factors in those who develop drug abuse and drug addiction.

In addition, growing up in a setting where drugs are prevalent or culturally reinforced can lead to becoming dependent on them. In terms of psychological factors, the primary ones are feeling no sense of belonging and running from unresolved trauma inside.

Lack of Developmental Maturity

The developmental maturity of a person is one psychological reason for addiction. What distinguishes mature humans from immature ones is their ability to match their behaviors with their ideas and ideals. Humans are distinguished from other animals by this ability.

We are functioning at the developmental level of a two-year-old kid if we behave without thinking and instead act on every desire, whim, or instinct. Addictions such as heroin addiction may arise as a result of a lack of developmental maturity.

Elizabeth Lombardo

Elizabeth Lombardo

Dr. Elizabeth Lombardo, Ph.D. of Elizabeth Lombardo. She is the authority on how to crush your inner critic so that you can live a life of purpose, fulfillment, and True Success.
Boris Mackey

Boris Mackey

Boris Mackey is the Editor-in-Chief and Community Outreach Manager at Rehab 4 Addiction.

Mental, Physical, and Environmental Factors

Drug abuse can lead to devastating effects on an individual’s physical and mental health.

• Existent Mental Illness
This is one of the biggest psychological causes of drug abuse in young women. A study at the National Centre on Addiction and Substance Abuse has found that young women are at a much higher risk of becoming dependent on drugs compared to men.

• Trauma and Development
Early traumatic experiences can significantly increase the chances of drug abuse as those struggling to process traumatic events turn to drugs as a coping mechanism and to self-medicate. Other factors such as the environment in which a child grows up can influence the likelihood of future drug abuse. Peer pressure, parental guidance, and stress in childhood can all contribute to psychological causes of drug abuse.

• Genetics
Genetics also play a role in drug abuse. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NDA) estimates that genetic factors account for around 40-60% of a person’s susceptibility to drug use.

Impulsive Actions

Most of human behavior is learned from what we observe around us. If we believe that recovery is not possible or that we should avoid doing anything, our thoughts might lead to addictive behaviors. Acting according to our thoughts, which are often triggered by a craving or an impulse, impairs our ability to manage our actions and develop strategies to avoid experiencing negative consequences.

Drug addiction can also be a way to cope with stress and uncomfortable feelings, but with the help of psychotherapy, people can improve their motivation and reduce their stress levels.

Yannis Giantzides

Yannis Giantzides

Yannis Giantzides, Managing Director at Harley Street Hair Transplant Clinics.

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