I also believe that addiction is a choice, and it is not caused by an incurable brain disease, a genetic predisposition, learned behavior or a chemical imbalance. However, before I describe “The Square Root of Addiction” I want to walk you through each of the existing theories related to addiction. Currently, there are four main theories relating to the cause of addiction, which include the biological, or disease model, the psychological model, the sociological model and social learning model. I believe that most of these theories do play a role in addictive behavior. However, they mostly occur as a result of the addiction or in conjunction with it, and not as the root cause! These theories represent the current views regarding addiction, which are coveted by the medical community. Bear in mind that these are only theories, and none of them have been conclusively proven to be the cause of addiction.
The biological theory suggests that habitual users of drugs or alcohol have a biological abnormality that causes them to become addicted. The theory suggests that certain individuals are genetically predisposed to addiction by a faulty gene or perhaps a chemical imbalance in the brain, which renders addiction an incurable disease!
The psychological theory views drug or alcohol addiction as problematic behavior. In other words the individual uses alcohol or drugs to enjoy the effects that these substances have on the mind and body.
The sociological theory suggests that societies which produce higher levels of inner tensions such as guilt, stress, suppressed aggression and conflict have higher rates of addiction. Furthermore, the model suggests that societies that are permissive of and encourage such behavior have higher rates of addiction.
The Social learning theory suggests that drug or alcohol addiction is a learned behavior and continues because the user gets some desired outcome from it. The model also suggests that these behaviors are learned by being exposed to certain stimuli; people, places, things, thoughts and feelings.
The sociological model does touch briefly on the fact that emotional issues are related to addictive behavior. However, this theory seems to bridge the relation directly to the societal breakdown in some groups where higher levels of inner tension and permissive behavior are prevalent. I believe that it is not the emotional issue itself, but rather understanding the cause of the emotional issue that is of the utmost importance. The psychological model suggests that the addict displays problematic behavior by using drugs or alcohol to enjoy the effects the substance has on the mind and the body. Logically speaking, I would venture to say that people using drugs or alcohol do enjoy the effects they have on the mind and body. However, that is not the reason they have chosen to use those substances. People choose self destructive habitual behavior not to enjoy the effects but to mask the pain of underlying emotional scars caused by family dysfunction. The social learning model suggests that addiction is a learned behavior resulting from the stimuli of people, places, things and thoughts. I would not dispute the fact that repeated exposure to this type of behavior could induce a learned behavior. However, this theory can not explain why some individuals exposed to the same stimuli would opt to just say no! I believe that difference hinges upon whether an individual has the need to mask the pain of underlying emotional scars and their personal level of coping skills. While some of the abovementioned models touch on the fact that emotional issues play a role in addiction, none of them have addressed the underlying cause of these emotional issues. Are these emotional issues caused by the stress factors of work, relationships, financial difficulties and every day life, or are they caused by something that runs much deeper? Why is that some can cope with the stresses of everyday life while others can not? Personality dictates the level of coping skills that each of us possess, allowing some to endure a greater degree of stress and others to turn to the need to mask their pain with addictive behavior. The pain of these emotional scars goes much deeper than the every day stress factors and stems from issues of family dysfunction. From a very early age we learn a system of beliefs from our families and sometimes these beliefs serve us well, and some times they are dysfunctional. When you consider that eighty five percent of all families are dysfunctional, you can begin to concur that more often than not these beliefs are self limiting to our well being and happiness. A cocaine addiction and Family Dysfunction a case-control study in southern Brazil is one of the few that I have seen that has explored the effects of family dysfunction. The conclusion of the study was that a point could be argued for the need of family intervention as a whole and for continued research. I beg to differ with this conjecture, which concludes that intervention is the solution to the addictive behavior. Intervention gives the very people responsible for the dysfunctional behavior an opportunity to lambaste the addicted individual with a barrage of shame and guilt while ignoring their own inadequacies.
Plain and simple; the reason that people choose addictive behavior is to mask the emotional pain of the underlying scars caused by family dysfunction.