Root causes of addiction and addictive behaviors.

Countless people with addictive behaviors have managed to get clean and stay clean with the help of organizations like Alcoholic Anonymous or the thousands of residential and outpatient clinics devoted to treating addiction. However, most fail at either their first or several attempts to “get clean”.

Higher Path Living’s recovery philosophy is designed to help you by using the latest research by SAMHSA (the US Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration). By using this evidence-based approach, we can support the individual who seeks to improve their emotional, spiritual, and physical health – committing to loving ourselves, accessing our full potential, and to moving forward by creating meaning and purpose in our lives. (To learn more about evidence-based research in treating addictive behaviors, you can go to:

At Higher Path Living, we provide exposure to recovery support services such as SMART Recovery and Refuge Recovery to help the individual to become happier, healthier and have a greater chance at lasting addiction-free life. This approach is based on the research, including studies about adverse childhood experiences (Walker, 2013), self-esteem acquisition (Branden, 1894), positive psychology (Seligman, 2000), attachment issues (Bowlby, 1969) etc.  We use addictive behaviors as a solution to feelings of overwhelming helpless for those things that we feel is important in our lives. (Dodes)

Root Causes of Addiction: How Adverse Childhood Experiences Lead to Adult Addiction…

What IS the ACE Study? The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) study was run by Kaiser Permanente and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). For the study, researchers collected information on the childhood stress experiences and current behavioral, emotional and physical health of more than 17,000 adults in Southern California from all walks of life, including upper, middle and lower social-economic backgrounds.

After analyzing this data, they determined that childhood stress exposure significantly raises a person’s risk of lifelong behavioral, mental and physical health problems.

Adverse Childhood Experiences (Your ACE Score) and Addiction.

There is a incredibly strong correlation between adverse childhood events and addiction risks, and the more adverse experiences you have, the greater your risk. What is your ACE Score?

  • For people with an ACE score of zero, 3% of people report adult addiction
  • For people with an ACE score of 1 that becomes 6% – a 100% increase than those with an ACE score of zero
  • For a score of 2, the percentage climbs to 10% – it rises to a 333% increase
  • For a score of 3, the percentage climbs to just under 12% – it rises to a 400% increase
  • For people with a score of 4, the percentage tops at 16% – it rises to a 533% increase

Which means experiencing four or more adverse childhood experiences raises your adult addiction risk by more than 500%.

** And a male with an ACE score of 6 or more, raises your risk of becoming an injection drug user by more than 1500% at some time in life, than compared to a male with an ACE score of zero.**

Given the staggering correlation between adverse childhood experiences and addiction, non 12-step programs can help with:

  • The correlation between childhood abuse and trauma and addictive behaviors
  • Dealing with feelings of overwhelming helplessness – without a drug or a drink
  • Emotional Intelligence
  • Self-value and self-respect
  • Relationships with family and others
  • Men’s issues
  • Why it is hard to stop and stay stopped

Root Causes of Addiction: Lack of Purpose & Meaning in Life

For younger people (generally under the age of 30 years old), the ACE test described above doesn’t necessarily fir the individual, as they may have come from happy homes without significant childhood issues. In many instances, addictive behaviors start of with experimenting drug use in their teen years – which quickly turns into full-blown addiction to alcohol and other mood altering substances. Many parents often ask, what went wrong?

The answer often lies simply in the fact, that without true purpose and meaning in our lives, drug experimentation as a youth can quickly lead to drug dependency. And we find that many people under age 30 have been taken care to the degree that they simply have gone through life expecting to being taken care of, including stints in multiple treatment programs – but still can’t seem to break the cycle of addiction.

We recognize this phenomenon at HPL, and work with our guests to help them explore and expand on healthy interests that may give them the lack of purpose and meaning they are seeking. Our recovery therapists work one on one with the person to help them uncover the root cause of suffering – which addictive behaviors are often just a symptom – and explore options that will help them uncover their authentic self. Where joy and happiness exist, there is no room for addiction.