Is addiction psychological or biological?

Addiction is a chronic disorder with biological, psychological, social and environmental factors that influence its development and maintenance. About half of the risk of addiction is genetic. It has long been debated whether addiction is driven by physical or psychological factors. However, almost all recent research shows that addiction actually has emotional, mental, and physical dimensions.

NIH-Funded Scientists Are Working to Learn More About the Biology of Addiction. They have shown that addiction is a complex and long-lasting brain disease, and that current treatments can help people manage their addictions. But even for those who have successfully stopped smoking, there is always a risk that the addiction will return, which is called relapse. Like diabetes, cancer, and heart disease, addiction is caused by a combination of behavioral, psychological, environmental and biological factors.

Genetic risk factors account for about half the likelihood that a person will develop addiction. When it comes to addictions, one of the main risk factors is genetics. This is because genetics help determine the amount of reward the body experiences from consuming certain substances or participating in certain behaviors. In addition, genetics also determine how the body processes different addictive substances, such as drugs and alcohol.

Psychological factors such as stress or trauma, environmental factors such as accessibility, and social factors such as the involvement of family or friends can also result in chronic use or exposure. While drugs and alcohol represent a specific type of addiction known as substance use disorder or chemical addiction, they are not the only type of addiction. To treat addiction, scientists have identified several medications and behavioral therapies, especially when used in combination, that can help people stop using specific substances and prevent relapse. Environmental factors such as family structure, friends, economic factors, and stress can make one person more likely to become addicted than another.

If you or someone you care about is dealing with an addiction, seeing a licensed mental health professional can be the first step toward recovery. This area, known as the prefrontal cortex, is the region that should help you recognize the harms of addictive substance use. Certain factors, such as a family history of addiction, trauma, or improperly treated mental health disorders, such as depression and anxiety, can make some people more susceptible to substance use disorders than others. Addiction tends to run in families, and certain types of genesStretches of DNA, a substance you inherit from your parents, that define characteristics such as your risk for certain disorders, such as addiction.

Addiction alters brain regions that are responsible for reward, motivation, learning, judgment, and memory. Curtin University professor Suzanne Fraser says that until about 10 years ago, the scientific focus was on the genetics of addiction, but since then geneticists have recognized that genes are too complex to cause addiction. Behavioral addictions are those that involve compulsive behaviors that are persistent, repetitive, and often have little or no benefit. It is important to note that currently only gambling addiction and Internet gaming disorder are currently recognized by the DSM-5 as behavioral addictions.

Most addictive substances cause the brain to release high levels of these same chemicals that are associated with pleasure or natural reward. Keith Humphreys, professor of psychiatry at Stanford University, says the U.S. National Institute of Health (of which NIDA is a part) funds 90 percent of global addiction research and funding is being cut, devastating to the field. Therefore, these people would be at greater risk of developing an addiction due to their genetic vulnerability.

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Kenneth Bursch
Kenneth Bursch

Subtly charming food fan. Certified web trailblazer. Hardcore travel advocate. Freelance web maven. Total bacon aficionado.

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