There are actually a wide variety of different causes for substance abuse and drug addiction problems. What leads one person to addiction is going to be completely unique to what leads another person - Each person is unique, and the individual "demons" that lead them to substance abuse are just as distinct.
When a person has an experience with either mental or physical abuse, this can and does lead to substance abuse problems and addiction over time. While not everyone who experiences physical or mental abuse is going to experience problems with substance abuse or addiction, these are serious causes.
Mental and Physical Abuse
Abuse comes in many different forms and from many different types of people. Emotional and verbal abuse can mean anything from bullying to mind games in an attempt to manipulate, neglect or sexual harassment. All of these types of abuse are capable of causing changes in the person being abused. Emotional abuse is often difficult to define, and so many times it goes unreported and the victim continues to suffer the abuse for as long as they can possibly bear. Unfortunately, this often leads to creating coping mechanisms, ways to deal with the bullying and abuse, and one of the most common coping mechanisms in this type of situation is substance abuse.
Physical abuse is a little easier to define because it can be described as any unwanted physical contact, including violent abuse and sexual abuse. When someone is experiencing any type of physical abuse, it can have a serious negative and long term effect. As the abuse continues, so will the victim's need to find outside sources for help and coping. Unfortunately, many people who are dealing with abuse do not know how to go through the right channels for assistance. Instead, they turn to the wrong types of coping mechanisms in order to deal with the problem and this is where substance abuse really becomes an issue.
Using Substance Abuse as a Coping Mechanism
Coping mechanisms are developed by people as a way to deal with stress, anxiety, depression or other issues such as abuse. People have historically turned to a wide variety of different coping mechanisms in order to "deal" with whatever is bothering them. Unfortunately, many coping mechanisms are not actually healthy actions, and they lead to the cause of more harm than good. When it comes to substance abuse and addiction, what you are looking at is "self medication." People use drugs and alcohol along with other illicit or harmful substances in order to dull the senses and numb the mind. Some people drink or take drugs just to sleep at night or to prevent nightmares, but in truth, they are causing more harm than good.
Abusing a substance as a coping mechanism can begin innocently enough. Someone who is dealing with emotional or verbal abuse might have a drink at night to unwind. They find themselves slowly drinking more and more every night to overcome the stressors of the day, until they are getting drunk every evening just to cope. Alcohol is a popular coping mechanism, and alcoholism a popular type of self-medication because becoming drunk numbs the senses. The problem, however, is that alcohol is a depressant and it is actually going to cause more depressed feelings than the original trigger.
Getting Help for Abuse
One of the biggest problems facing people with substance abuse problems is that you cannot overcome a substance abuse or addiction issue until you correct the underlying problem. What this means is that you need to seek out treatment for the mental or physical abuse while you are working on overcoming the substance abuse problem. There are dual diagnosis treatment facilities out there that are set up for this type of situation.
What this means, ultimately, is that you can get help not only for the substance abuse or addiction problem, but also for what is causing the problem in the first place. If you truly want to overcome your drug addiction or substance abuse problem, then you need to be willing to address the underlying cause. This is going to be your best bet for preventing relapse in the future.
If you are struggling with abuse in any form, and it is causing you to turn to substance abuse as a coping mechanism, then realize that there is help out there for you. You can get the help that you need once and for all to address both issues.