What Causes Addiction?

Addiction is a complex condition that can alter all aspects of your life. At Revolution Psychiatric and Addiction Treatment, psychiatrist Richard E. Repass, MD, offers comprehensive addiction treatment services to help you recover from all types of addiction, including addictions to different types of drugs and alcohol.

As part of your recovery, you need to understand what causes addiction. While everyone’s situation is different, there are some common elements that increase your risk for addiction.

Defining addiction

Addiction describes chronic dysfunction in your brain regarding your motivation, your memory, and your reward system. This dysfunction can cause you to engage in obsessive and reckless behaviors to get your reward despite the negative consequences it can have on your life.

The rewards in addiction can vary greatly but some of the most common things people develop an addiction to include:

As the addiction progresses, it can severely affect your ability to meet your responsibilities and can affect your physical, mental, and emotional health.

Identifying the root cause of addiction

The substances and behaviors you’re addicted to trigger a pleasurable sensation in your brain that you feel physically and psychologically.

Over time, you will likely need to use more of a substance or engage in certain behaviors more often to achieve the same feelings. This can create a vicious cycle that’s hard to break away from, especially without medical intervention.

Some of the reasons you might develop an addiction might include:

Brain function

The frontal lobe of your brain helps to delay feelings of reward. When you have an addiction, your frontal lobe provides immediate gratification, making you seek out more of what you’re addicted to.

You might also be at increased risk for addiction if you have underlying mental disorders or if you have a chemical imbalance in your brain.


If you have a family history of substance abuse or other addictive tendencies, you might be at increased risk of having the same issues.


Your environment can contribute to your risk for addiction. If you live in an abusive environment or lack a good support system, you might be at increased risk for misusing or abusing drugs and alcohol to cope.

Also, the earlier you are exposed to addictive substances and behaviors, the more likely you are to become involved in them yourself.

Stages of addiction

Typically, addiction develops in stages. While not everyone goes through these stages in the same way, it helps to understand the common road to addiction. The four stages of addiction include:


Many times, addiction occurs out of curiosity. You might begin experimenting with alcohol or different drugs just to see what it’s all about.

Social use

After experimenting, you might begin regularly using drugs or alcohol in social situations to keep up with your peers.

Risky behaviors

As your use of drugs and alcohol intensifies, you might begin engaging in risky or reckless behaviors without regard for the consequences.


Once you become dependent on drugs or alcohol, your participation in risky behaviors can escalate, and you may find yourself doing whatever you can to satisfy your addiction.

Options for getting your addiction under control

While addiction can be difficult to overcome, you deserve a chance at recovery. Dr. Repass tailors an addiction treatment plan to your individual needs. He also offers on-site detox programs using Brain Restoration Plus Nicotinamide Adenine Dinucleotide (BR+NAD™).

NAD is found in every cell in your body and is responsible for repairing DNA and increasing neurons in your brain. BR+NAD helps stop your cravings for drugs and alcohol and allows you to detox safely without taking other medications. 

Detox ensures you don’t face a difficult period of withdrawal symptoms that often derails attempts at recovery.

If you’re struggling with addiction, contact us at Revolution Psychiatric and Addiction Treatment in Mercer Island, Washington, today to learn more about the available recovery services.

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