What Causes Addiction?

Welcome to the What Causes Addiction? topic center

In this topic center, you will find information in the following categories in regards to the causes of addiction:

  1. Biological Perspectives.
  2. Psychological Perspectives.
  3. Moral & Spiritual Perspectives.
  4. 12-Step Perspectives.
  5. Cognitive-Behavioral/Social Learning Theories.
  6. Other Theories.

There are many theories on what causes addiction. Some contend that it is genetically determined, while at the other end of the spectrum, others argue that it is caused by purely environmental factors, like a turbulent childhood.

The dominant model in the United States is called the disease model, originally proposed by Alan Leshner at the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA). The disease model views addiction as a biological “disease” whereby the drug essentially hijacks the brain, leading to enduring biochemical changes and making addiction inevitable.

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There are, however, several other competing theories. For example, some propose that addiction is more contingent upon dysfunctional thoughts and conditioned behaviors; that addiction is a moral or spiritual problem; or that addiction results from a lack of social connection.

Today, a large portion of psychologists accept that addiction results from the complex interaction of many factors, including biological, psychological, social, and even (for some) spiritual factors. This is referred to as the Bio-Psycho-Social-Spiritual (BPSS) Model.

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