Rates of addiction are increasing rapidly all over the world, leading many people to speculate why this may be the case. There are many potential causes of people becoming addicted to various substances (for example; alcohol, nicotine, cocaine, heroin, prescription medications, and many others) or behaviors (for example; gambling, sex, pornography, food, social media, video games, and many others).

Overcoming addiction is important, whether the addiction is to an illegal substance or behavior or to something legal and normalized. If you think you may be suffering from an addiction, understanding why you may be addicted and the root causes of addiction is important in learning how to overcome it. In this article, we will explore some of the causes of addiction, whatever specific thing a person is addicted to.


Loneliness is a major cause of depression, which is itself a major cause of addiction. Studies have shown that loneliness or social rejection can actually register in the brain almost exactly the same way that physical pain does. It is no wonder then that people choose to escape loneliness via addictive behaviors.


Modern life can be extremely stressful. In addition to work and social pressures, we are exposed to bad news from all over the world at a faster rate and a higher quantity than ever before due to social media and the internet. Stress-relieving substances such as alcohol, and escapist behaviors such as video games, are common ways that people deal with stress.


Depression can be caused by any or all of the different factors on this list. If you are suffering from severe depression, it can be very helpful to consult a medical professional. If you are struggling with both depression and addiction, it can be most effective to tackle these at the same time. Contacting a service such as Changing Tides and undertaking their Changing Tides addiction treatment program alongside the services of a therapist can be a good idea.


Similar to stress, anxiety can also cause addiction. Worries about the past, present, or future often lead people to self-medicate with substances or behaviors. Prescription anxiety medications (whether obtained via prescription or illicitly) such as benzodiazepines (Xanax, Valium, etc.) are often abused, leading to addiction problems.

Lack of Confidence

One of the most common causes of anxiety is a lack of confidence. Low self-esteem and self-doubts often cause people to seek out alcohol (commonly known as “liquid confidence”), cocaine, or even non-drug-related behaviors.

Unresolved Trauma

Traumatic events can often cause lifelong problems with anxiety, depression, and various other mental health issues. Individuals who have experienced trauma often develop addiction problems, which is why it is so important that trauma is worked through with a clinically trained therapist.

Chemical Dependency

Sometimes addiction is simply due to a chemical dependency. For example, someone may start using alcohol, cocaine, methamphetamine, or other drugs in a social setting and for no reason other than recreation, but then end up developing a reliance on these drugs due to the way they can alter brain chemistry. In other cases, people may start using substances because of other problems on this list but end up with a chemical addiction that can even outlast the issues that caused them to use in the first place.