The Roots of Addiction


These resources are now owned and operated by Child Health BC who is making them freely available to parents, caregivers, families and anyone supporting healthy child development in the early years.

Painful Childhood Experiences Create a Risk of Future Addiction

Addiction is an attempt to solve the graver problem of unbearable psychic pain. To understand addiction we need to understand that human pain can come from childhood experiences. The more adversity an individual experiences in childhood the higher their risk of resorting to addictive behaviour to sooth their pain, even temporarily. Addiction (alcohol, drugs, shopping, Internet, etc.) is an attempt to seek something from the outside that the individual is not able to generate from within.

The Brain’s Ability to Deal with Stress Develops Optimally in Supportive Secure Environments

Childhood experience is significant because the circuitry that modulates the brain’s reward chemicals is underdeveloped in traumatized children. Infant discomfort is a response to parental discomfort. It is also important to note that although addiction is often multigenerational and runs in families it has nothing to do with genetics but is caused by emotional patterns and behaviours that give rise to the same pain and hence, the same desire to escape from it.


Gabor Maté