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Environment is Influencing Your Addiction

Our environment plays a significant role in shaping our behaviors and habits. As such, it can have a powerful influence on our relationship with addictive substances.

Navigation: 1. The Power of Social Influence, , 2. Stressful Environments Can Trigger Relapse, 3. The Influence of Family Dynamics, 4. The Role of Accessibility, 5. The Impact of Trauma, 6. The Benefits of a Green Lifestyle, Making Changes to Your Environment, Rehab Is Your Best Chance


While there are many factors that contribute to the development of addiction, one often overlooked aspect is the environment in which a person lives.

Our environment plays a significant role in shaping our behaviors and habits. As such, it can have a powerful influence on our relationship with addictive substances.

Anyone with an addiction may be curious about the factors that led to its development. The truth is that it is often influenced by several different factors like genetics and childhood trauma. There is no one identifiable cause for addiction. [1]

Here we will be focusing on the environmental factors. We will talk about environment and addiction influences to see how a person may be pushed towards substance abuse by the world around them. Here are six ways your environment is influencing your addiction.


1. The Power of Social Influence

Humans are social creatures, and we are heavily influenced by the people around us. This is especially true when it comes to addiction. If you spend time with people who engage in substance abuse, you are more likely to develop an addiction yourself.

This is because we tend to adopt the behaviors and habits of those we spend time with. If your friends or family members use drugs or alcohol, it can be challenging to resist the temptation to join in. This is why it’s crucial to surround yourself with a supportive and sober community during your recovery journey.

For people who are dealing with addiction, “learned environments” can influence the development of the condition as well as their recovery. Your physical environment can create a host of triggers that may remind you of your desire to take certain substances. [1]

Sometimes it’s all about who you are spending time with. Social circles can exert pressure to engage in addictive behaviors. Peer groups might normalize and encourage substance use or certain addictive activities, making it more likely for an individual to participate to fit in or avoid social exclusion.

The acceptance or rejection a person feels within a social group can influence addictive behaviors. Observing others engaging in addictive behaviors can normalize those actions. If substance abuse is seen as socially acceptable within a particular group, they may be more inclined to adopt that behavior to gain acceptance or approval.

Teens and young adults are especially vulnerable to peer pressure.

Social influence can even extend into social media. The content we consume on a daily basis may influence the way we think.

On the flip side, social isolation or lack of a supportive social network can exacerbate addiction. When someone feels disconnected or lonely, they might turn to addictive substances as a way to cope or fill that void.

It’s important to note that social influence isn’t always a bad thing. Social networks can also play a positive role in recovery. Supportive social circles, including family, friends, or support groups, can influence people to seek help, stay committed to treatment, and maintain sobriety.

Understanding the influence of social factors on addiction is crucial for designing effective prevention and intervention strategies. Recognizing the impact of peer pressure, societal norms, and the role of support networks can help in creating environments that promote healthier behaviors and aid in addiction recovery.


2. Stressful Environments Can Trigger Relapse

Stress is a common trigger for relapse. It can also play a significant role in the development of addiction. Our environment can either contribute to stress or help us relieve stress. If you live in a chaotic or stressful environment, it can be challenging to maintain your sobriety.

For example, if you live in a loud and crowded city, you may be constantly bombarded with triggers and temptations. On the other hand, if you live in a peaceful and quiet environment, you may find it easier to manage your stress and stay on track with your recovery.

Addiction experts have long considered stress to be a risk factor in the development of addiction as well as relapse vulnerability. Studies have shown that various stressors may contribute to substance use and abuse. When people are stressed out, they tend to self-medicate with drugs and alcohol to feel better. [2]

This is because stress alters brain chemistry. It can lead to an increase in cortisol, commonly known as the stress hormone. This hormonal shift can affect decision-making, impulse control, and mood regulation. When a person is stressed, it is harder to resist the temptation to use substances.

Sometimes drug abuse is done as a form of coping mechanism to manage or escape from stress.

To prevent relapse triggered by stressful environments, you can try various stress management techniques. Learn and practice stress-reducing activities like mindfulness, meditation, and exercise. It also helps to surround yourself with a supportive network of friends, family, or a support group that can provide encouragement and guidance during stressful times.

Ultimately, understanding personal triggers, building resilience, and developing healthy coping mechanisms are vital in navigating stressful environments and maintaining sobriety in recovery.

3. The Influence of Family Dynamics

Our family dynamics can have a profound impact on our relationship with various substances. It can therefore contribute to the development of addiction as well as your recovery journey.

If you grew up in a household where substance abuse was prevalent, you may have learned unhealthy coping mechanisms and behaviors. Rehab will have to focus on helping you unlearn these behaviors.

Family dynamics are considered one of the strongest external factors that influence addictive behavior. Family interactions and parenting styles can play a pivotal role in the development of substance use. The way you cope with stress or deal with problems is determined or influenced by how you were raised. [1]

It’s also worth mentioning that addiction has a genetic component to it. Those who have a family history of addiction may be more predisposed to substance abuse. It does not mean you will become addicted at some point in the future. It only shows that you are at greater risk of addiction.

There’s also the fact that some family members enable addictive behaviors by covering up for the addicted person or providing financial support. While they may think they are being helpful, this only prolongs the addiction cycle.

Dysfunctional family dynamics, such as abuse, neglect, or constant conflict, can lead to emotional distress and trauma. This contributes to stress and increases the likelihood of engaging in self-medication.

Healthy family dynamics, on the flip side, may help protect individuals from addiction or at least minimize the risks. This is why family therapy is often used in rehab.

4. The Role of Accessibility

The availability of drugs is one of the factors that contribute to the development of addiction. If you live in an area where drugs and alcohol are readily available, the risk of substance abuse is much greater. [3]

When drugs are easily accessible, either legally or illegally, people are more likely to experiment with or use them. The easier it is to obtain drugs, the higher the chance of developing an addiction. Accessibility includes both physical availability and affordability.

Easy access often means normalization of drug use within a community. This normalization can lead to increased experimentation and, subsequently, higher addiction rates. You may come from an environment where people like to binge drink regularly. This exposes you to the risk of alcohol use disorder.

Accessibility may also refer to early exposure. Adolescents or young adults who have easier access to drugs are more likely to start using them at a younger age. This means their risk of addiction is much higher since their brains are still developing.

On the other hand, if you live in an environment where these substances are not as accessible, it can be easier to avoid relapse. This is why many people choose to move to a sober living community or a new location during their recovery journey.

5. The Impact of Trauma

Trauma is another common underlying factor in addiction. Our environment can play a role in triggering traumatic memories and emotions. For example, if you experienced trauma in a particular place, being in that environment can bring up painful memories and increase the risk of relapse.

A traumatic life experience like parental neglect, sexual or physical abuse, or a major accident can increase the likelihood of substance abuse. Early exposure to traumatic experiences can significantly increase the risk of different psychiatric disorders. It’s not just substance abuse either. It can lead to various mental health problems. [4]

Examples of mental health disorders that are influenced by early exposure to trauma include: schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, major depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and addiction. [4]

It’s essential to address any unresolved trauma and seek support from a therapist or support group to help you process and heal from these experiences.

Just like with stress, people who have experienced trauma may turn to substances to cope with their distress. Some people might turn to drugs or alcohol as a way to self-medicate and numb their feelings temporarily. Substance use might be a means of avoiding or suppressing distressing memories associated with the traumatic event.

Unfortunately, this is actually counterproductive. Trauma can alter brain chemistry and disrupt our ability to regulate stress. At the same time, drugs can further disrupt this balance by artificially altering neurotransmitter levels, intensifying the impact of trauma.

6. The Benefits of a Green Lifestyle

Environmental factors do not just refer to our physical surroundings; it also includes the lifestyle choices we make.

Adopting a green lifestyle can have a positive impact on our mental and physical health, which can support our recovery journey.

Studies have shown that spending time in nature can reduce stress, improve mood, and increase feelings of well-being. Additionally, making eco-friendly choices, such as reducing waste and using natural products, can improve our overall health and support our recovery.

Clean living offers numerous advantages in contrast to drug addiction. Regular exercise, a balanced diet, and abstaining from drugs contribute to better physical health, including improved organ function, better immunity, and increased energy levels. It also allows for clearer thinking and better cognitive function. Mental clarity supports better decision-making, problem-solving, and memory.

Living a drug-free lifestyle also helps develop emotional stability and resilience. It allows people to better manage stress, anxiety, and other emotional challenges without resorting to substances that can exacerbate these issues.

It can even improve your relationships. Since drug addiction can strain relationships with family, friends, and colleagues, clean living can protect you from that. It ultimately leads to stronger and more meaningful connections with others.

Clean living also contributes to financial stability. The costs of drug addiction can stack up over time. But freeing yourself from this burden helps you make smarter financial decisions.

Embracing clean living often opens the door to personal growth opportunities. This can include pursuing hobbies, education, career advancement, and setting and achieving personal goals. It can boost your confidence and self-esteem. Being free from the grip of addiction offers a sense of freedom and empowerment. It allows you to live life on your terms rather than being controlled by substances.

Making Changes to Your Environment

While drug addiction treatment only lasts a few months, recovery is a lifelong effort. Rehab teaches patients to make long-lasting changes that will improve their quality of life while staying sober. Making changes in your daily routine or building new social circles may help you maintain your sobriety by introducing more positive elements into your life.

If you feel that your environment is negatively impacting your addiction and recovery journey, it may be time to make these changes.

If you don’t have supportive friends or family members, consider joining a sober community. Attend support group meetings or connect with sober friends. Having a strong support system can make all the difference in your recovery journey and help you stay on track when faced with challenges.

Even alone, try to create a peaceful and soothing environment for yourself. This can help with stress management. It can also reduce the risk of relapse. Incorporate calming elements into your home, such as plants, candles, and soft lighting. You can also create a designated space for relaxation and self-care, such as a meditation corner or reading nook.

Our environment plays a significant role in our addiction and recovery journey. By understanding the ways in which our surroundings can influence our behaviors and habits, we can make changes to create a more supportive and healthy environment for our recovery.

Whether it’s surrounding ourselves with a sober community, addressing unhealthy family dynamics, or making eco-friendly lifestyle choices, small changes can have a significant impact on our recovery journey. Remember, you are not alone, and there is always support available to help you on your path to recovery.

If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse and addiction, look for a rehab near you today.

Rehab is Your Best Chance

Treatment is an addicted individualʼs best option if they want to recover. Beating an addiction not only requires eliminating the physical dependence, but also addressing the behavioral factors that prevent them from wanting to get better. Simply quitting may not change the psychological aspect of addiction. Some people quit for a while, and then take drugs or alcohol again, only to overdose because they did not detox properly. Recovery involves changing the way the patient feels, thinks, and behaves.


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Fel Clinical Director of Content
Felisa Laboro has been working with addiction and substance abuse businesses since early 2014. She has authored and published over 1,000 articles in the space. As a result of her work, over 1,500 people have been able to find treatment. She is passionate about helping people break free from alcohol or drug addiction and living a healthy life.

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