If you’re new to recovery, perhaps your focus has been on trying to stay sober. You’ve been attending AA meetings, staying away from drug and drinking friends, and working with your sponsor. And that’s been working well. But at some point, you might wonder, “How did all this get started in the first place?” or, “Why did I get stuck in such a dangerous cycle of addiction?” If you’re beginning to ask yourself these questions, you’re starting to look at the root of your addiction.

In gardening, the way you pull a weed out for good is to unearth the root of that weed. In the same way, if you’d like to heal your addiction for good, try to uncover the root of your addiction. As you can imagine, getting to the root of the addiction then lets you fill the need you were trying to fill in a healthier and safer way. For instance, if you find out that feeling unloved drove your addiction, then perhaps you can adopt a pet, begin a new romantic relationship, or spend more time with your grandchildren. Or if you uncover that you were using drugs because of often feeling rejected, you might work on self-acceptance with your therapist.

As you begin to contemplate the beginnings of your addiction, you might also come to realize there was possibly something you were missing. For many people, addiction begins because they seem to lack the inner resources to cope with whatever is going on with their lives.  Perhaps a family member died or you experienced severe financial trouble, which triggered a serious amount of anxiety or depression. In this case, substance use might appear to be the answer to taking the pain away. Then, this becomes the way to cope with the challenges of life.

However, there are other reasons that might drive a person to develop an addiction. For instance:

  • –Someone with an addictive personality might find themselves using substances excessively, which can contribute to a developing addiction.
  • –Someone with a mental health condition, such as depression, anxiety, or post traumatic stress disorder, might begin to use drugs or alcohol as a means to cope with their symptoms.
  • –Feeling pressure from friends or family might drive someone to use drugs or alcohol. The need to feel accepted by others might lead a person to continue their use of substances until an addiction develops.
  • –Low self esteem and social anxiety can what triggers substance use for some people. Drugs and alcohol tend to make people feel good about themselves and those feelings can lead to continued use. In turn, over time, an addiction can develop.
  • –Childhood conditioning about the use of alcohol and drugs can also contribute to addiction. For instance, if you grew up in a home in which there was addiction, you might have learned behaviors that have contributed to an addiction.
  • –Genetics can also play a role in the development of addiction.


Getting at the root of addiction can help you determine what you need to stay sober. By understanding what created the addiction, you can find a healthy way to meet your emotional and psychological needs. This also allows you more easily accept the past and prepare for a sober and more satisfying future.

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