The Role of Environment in Addiction

Drug and alcohol addiction impacts 23.5 million Americans each year. The sad truth is, though, that only around 11.2 percent of those people seek professional treatment. There are numerous factors that can contribute to addiction—trauma, mental illness, peer pressure—but out of all of the possible causes, there is one that affects every single person: environment.

Environment and the Brain’s Reward System

A person’s social interactions with others and their personal circumstances impact the risk of developing an addiction. When someone lives in an environment that does not challenge their mind or that makes them feel bad due to rocky relationships with loved ones, they are not stimulating the reward system in their brain. That lack of stimulation means that they are more likely to abuse drugs or alcohol in an effort to improve the way that they feel.

Poor social stimulation includes:

  • Poor relationships with family
  • A boring job situation
  • Poor interactions with co-workers
  • A lack of friends
  • Lack of respect at work or at home
  • Conflict in any relationship

Trauma or Abuse

Almost 50 percent of women and 60 percent of men experience traumatic situations at least once in their lifetime. That’s more than half of the country’s population. How do so many people cope with these stressful and painful memories? Many of them drink or do drugs. The reality is, though, that using only makes things worse. It might mask the pain for a moment, but it doesn’t resolve it. Instead, the symptoms compound into ugly globules of depression, anger and self-hatred. Soon they’ll have no choice but to feed their addiction, even though substance abuse is no longer covering up the pain.

Peer and Family Influences

A person’s quality of life, peer interactions and family influences greatly impact the way that they view the world—including their decisions regarding drugs or alcohol . If they work in a job that encourages alcohol consumption, then they are subconsciously influenced by the behavior of their peers and co-workers. Or if a loved one takes a prescription medication and leaves it in a location that they can access easily, they might be tempted by its presence and know where to turn if a conflict arises.

These influences make it almost impossible to stop using once a person becomes addicted. It’s time for them to take back control, and the first step is separating from anyone who pressures them into using or who uses around them.

Finding the Help They Need

It’s no secret that addiction is harmful to a person’s life, their relationships and their health. In order to find the help they need, it is important to look past what their peers are doing and look into themselves. They should make their own decisions. Many times those decisions include entering into a new, encouraging environment and surrounding themselves with others who will support them and help guide them back to sobriety.

Each person’s situation is unique. Their story is their own. Finding a treatment facility that fits a person perfectly can be a challenge, but it is vital to their success. A high-quality program will look into past traumas and living environments in order to pinpoint the root cause of their addiction. From there, they will finally be able to heal and grow into the person they want to be.