Press items (N = 1327) about addiction related problems were collected from politically independent daily newspapers in Finland, Italy, the Netherlands, and Poland from 1991, 1998, and 2011. A synchronized qualitative coding was performed for discerning the descriptions of the genesis to the problems in terms of described causes to and reasons for why they occur. Environmental explanations were by far the most common and they varied most between the materials. The analysis documents how the portrayals include traces of their contextual origin, relating to different media tasks and welfare cultural traditions. Meaning-based differences were also assigned to the kind of problems that held the most salience in the press reporting. A general worry over societal change is tied into the explanations of accumulating addiction problems and underpins the press reporting in all countries.