If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, you’re most likely curious about how someone ends up with an addiction in the first place. These are normal and common questions, as realizing you or someone you love has developed an addiction to drugs or alcohol can be frightening and confusing. You might be wondering if addiction is caused by something within a person, like genetics, or something external, like the way you were raised or who you hang out with.

The reality of the situation is that there is no one identifiable cause for addiction. However, in an article published in the June 2016 issue of the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, research demonstrated that environmental factors significantly influence addiction.

A person’s environment can include many settings, including work, home, school, neighborhoods, recreation areas, and social events and networks. To better understand how addiction is influenced by one’s environment, it’s important to understand how each different environment can influence or affect addictive tendencies.

Home as It Influences Addiction

A common environmental factor of addiction is the home and family interactions, especially early life experiences. Parenting styles and levels of supervision can play a role in the development of later mental health issues, including substance use disorder (SUD). Children raised by parents who are overly authoritative or overly permissive are more easily influenced to drink and do drugs.

In addition, stressful environments have a strong impact on behavior, especially for those who have experienced trauma. Trauma can cause changes in the brain, which can lead to feelings of discomfort that may be alleviated by substance use, which can develop into abuse and addiction. This maladaptive coping strategy can also lead to risky or self-destructive behaviors.

The Role of Friendships in Addiction

A sense of belonging is important to all of us. As a result, the behavior and habits of friends will invariably affect everyone in the group. If our friends center their activities around the use of drugs or alcohol, or shame others for choosing to remain abstinent, this becomes a toxic environment for anyone seeking to change their behavior.

If you get to a point where you choose to stop drinking or using drugs, you will most likely need to change your social environment. Spending time with new, sober friends will assist and strengthen your recovery process.

Social Media as a Negative Influence

While social media comes with many positives, it also brings many negative aspects. When someone struggling with emotional problems sees other people online who appear attractive, happy, and enjoying life, it can exacerbate feelings of isolation and shame and damage their self-esteem. Oftentimes, when people feel isolated or ashamed, they turn to drugs or alcohol to alleviate these feelings.

In addition, social media can portray unrealistic scenes of individuals partying, drinking, and using drugs, which can lead to addiction as well.

The Impact of Mainstream Media 

In addition to social media influencing addiction, media in general, including video games, movies, and television shows, can influence addiction as well. The media portrayal of relationships, violence, and sex can encourage younger viewers to develop world views that are self-critical and unhealthy. The media also portrays unrealistic ideals of real life. Viewers who are watching a movie or show that glorifies substance abuse, for example, may decide to indulge as well, which could lead to addiction.

Cultural and Religious Influences 

There are also many cultural and religious triggers for addiction. Some cultural factors that might influence addiction include the geographical area in which you grow up, early experiences and teachings related to shame, and religious beliefs prevalent in your culture. Some cultures define rigid roles for individuals based on their gender or social class. For example, in certain cultures, it is acceptable, or even encouraged, for men to drink to excess, while women are expected to drink moderately. These gender-specific cultural norms can lead to problematic behavior as people either embrace these expectations or rebel against them.

Getting Help 

When you’re looking for the best place to seek treatment for SUD, it can be helpful to consider the role of your environment. If your environment has played a role in developing your addiction, and you are seeking a well-defined change from your environment and triggers, a residential treatment program may be best for you. Residential treatment facilities get you out of the environment that was triggering substance abuse, give you round-the-clock care, and provide structure, all of which can aid you as you begin your recovery journey.

While the idea of starting a residential addiction treatment program can be frightening or overwhelming, removing yourself from your environment may be exactly what you need in order to recover. It is no secret that your addiction is being influenced by your environment. By removing yourself from that environment, you have a better shot at overcoming your addiction. Bella Monte Recovery Center, located in Desert Hot Springs, California, offers a residential treatment program that creates a solid foundation for a successful recovery from SUD and co-occurring mental illnesses. Our highly structured program provides a comprehensive approach to healing mind, body, and spirit that is tailored to each individual client’s needs and comfort level. If you think your environment is triggering or is negatively affecting your SUD, now may be the time to consider residential treatment. To learn more about what we have to offer, call (800) 974-1938 today.