The Factors of Drug Addiction

woman upset and frustrated with addiction

Addiction is a subject that gets a lot of attention nationally and internationally. Many studies are funded, written and submitted, television shows feature addicted people being sent to rehab, even feature insider looks at the rehab services in progress. We have fictional and factual people admitting that they are addicted and news reports cover the death of prominent people when drugs or alcohol seem to be related.

Governments, international agencies and charitable organizations all talk about the problem and ask for funding. Hundreds of millions of dollars are spent on addressing the problem or picking up the pieces of broken lives that were destroyed by addiction. But there is a serious problem in the midst of all this discussion and spending.

Addiction is not going anywhere. It’s not getting better. For all the investment, treatment does not seem to be making the problem go away very quickly.

In the US, the number of those addicted to or dependent on alcohol and other drugs has stayed at or around 22 million Americans since 2002. Americans addicted to illicit drugs alone (which includes abuse of prescription drugs) runs around seven million.

Internationally, between 15 and 29 million people are dependent on illicit drugs, not including alcohol.

In the US, there are more than 10,000 drug and alcohol rehab centers. Are people at these centers being returned to the streets able to stay clean and sober? Maybe not that often. Only 44% of people being admitted to treatment are there for the first time, meaning that all the others have been to treatment multiple times.

To address the problem of addiction thoroughly and bring about a lasting recovery, one must understand what causes addiction. If one treated people for addiction without understanding the factors that caused addiction to be so stubborn, it is quite possible for that treatment to fail.

As a public service, Narconon is making the factors of addiction available to families who are determined to win the battle against this relentless enemy.

Definition: Addiction is a condition characterized by repeated, compulsive seeking and use of drugs, alcohol or other similar substances despite adverse social, mental and physical consequences. It is usually accompanied by psychological and physical dependence on the abused substances and the appearance of withdrawal symptoms when the addictive substances are rapidly decreased or withdrawn.

There are specific factors that keep an addicted person trapped in this situation. The good news is that they can be addressed and overcome and that stable sobriety can result.

The three factors are: Cravings, Depression, and Guilt.

cravings depression and guilt

For recovery to last, these three factors must be effectively alleviated in the addicted person. He or she must also know how to avoid getting back into situations that would create them anew.

Drawbacks of the Pharmaceutical Solution

It is critically important for a family seeking recovery - or for an addicted person seeking his or her own recovery - to realize that these factors will never be able to be medicated away. In other words, there is no pharmaceutical solution to cravings, depression and guilt. There are, in fact, effective, tested, proven means of alleviating all three factors without drugs.

This is how true recovery is brought about, and how one achieves lasting sobriety.


Pharmaceutical science has long offered a solution to opiate cravings. Synthetic opiates referred to as “opioids” can be given to a person addicted to heroin, morphine, codeine or prescription drugs OxyContin, Vicodin, Lortab or other similar drugs.

Treatment opioids are mixed in a formula that is not supposed to create the same euphoria as the original drug that was abused, however, every single drug used for this purpose quickly becomes a drug of abuse and addiction. In addition, any person whose cravings are just being covered up with more drugs is chained to the use of that drug. He has not learned what it is like to live completely drug-free. She has certainly not learned how to stay drug-free by her own volition.

Pharmaceuticals to prevent withdrawal and cravings for other types of drugs like stimulants (cocaine, methamphetamine) or cannabis (marijuana, hashish) do not yet exist, but efforts are being made to find them.


As far as depression goes, there are well-known drugs that are being prescribed for depression, for example, Prozac and Paxil. But these drugs don’t really handle depression, they just take it out of sight, and themselves have some alarming side effects. When the drug is ceased, the person may be worse off than they were before. Also, many antidepressants carry warnings from the Food and Drug Administration that they increase the risk of suicide. Many antidepressants are known to interfere with sexual desire and performance. If depression can be alleviated through healthier and more lasting means, this would be a definite advantage.


Guilt may be able to be medicated away, at least for as long as a person is willing to take a class of drug called a benzodiazepine. This class includes Valium and Xanax and both are addictive drugs that are frequently abused. Here too, the guilt is not gone, it is simply hidden under a drug.

When cravings, guilt, and depression are only masked by medications, or when they are not thoroughly addressed and alleviated through other means, a person trying to stay clean and sober after addiction treatment can have a very difficult time. Every day becomes a fight to resist the cravings and carry on in life despite the guilt and depression that haunt every step.

For the understanding of every family member of an addict and for every addicted person who wishes to put that addiction behind him or her, this series of articles will examine the causes of cravings, guilt and depression and how they are alleviated in the Narconon drug and alcohol treatment program. For more than fifty years, Narconon drug recovery centers have been helping people find lasting recovery from addiction.

Call Narconon today to learn more about how we can help.

drug free group of friends

Series of articles explaining drug addiction