Many Theories for Causes of Drug Addiction

By: Ned Wicker

It has always fascinated me that people of good will, people of letters, qualified people who study and earnestly try to understand the nature of addiction, can so often completely disagree with each other. Is drug addiction caused by a human being's response to pain? Is it genetic? Is it socio-economic? Is it caused by a lack of love?

The Mayo Clinic offers a scientific explanation of when drug addiction occurs, stating, "Physical addiction appears to occur when repeated use of a drug alters reward pathways in your brain. The addicting drug causes physical changes to some nerve cells (neurons) in your brain. Neurons use chemicals called neurotransmitters to communicate."

Narconon sees the addiction as being caused partially by the self-esteem of the individual. "People who have low self-concepts, who feel bad about themselves, have a higher rate of addiction. People with low self-concepts use psychoactive substances either to enhance or create pleasure in their lives, or to decrease the constant emotional pain they live with. The better a person feels about himself, the less likely he will be to use or abuse psychoactive substances. A society that has easy access to drugs that has a population that is "addiction-prone" due to genetics or emotional pain, and that has pro-use or unclear norms, is a society prone to addiction."

Another approach to the cause of drug addiction is presented by Dr. Greg Baer, a former ophthalmologist, who asserts that the primary cause of addiction is a response to pain, emptiness and the lack of what he calls real love. He does not ascribe to the theory that addiction is a disease. "After extensive interviews with thousands of addicts," says Dr. Baer, "less than one percent of them fail to respond enthusiastically to this definition of addiction and the clarification of the causes of drug addiction, whereas most of them have had serious problems with the usual definitions and explanations."

There are countless explanations of the cause of drug addiction. I chose these three because they offered different viewpoints. Humans are prone to excess. There is never enough, or it's not good enough, or it's not available soon enough. We push the limits, as Adam and Eve did in Genesis 3. When we push the limits of something, there are consequences, both medical and psychological. We search to get our fill of what's missing in our lives.

In the absence of God, there are few options. Power, wealth and pleasure, in varying degrees, are options for most people. Few people make the real love connection with God. Dr. Baer tries to make love connection, but without God. The human condition in most mandates that we accept God on our own terms, that we get to define God, that we set the limitations on just how close God is allowed to come.

What is the cause of addiction? It is a lack of allowing God in our lives.

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