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Eight Risk Factors for Addiction

Risk Factors for Addiction, Factors for Addiction, risk factors that can increase the chance of addiction

Substance use disorders affect more than 20 million people in the United States aged 12 and over. As the number of people affected by drug and alcohol addiction continues to rise, you may wonder what causes one person to become addicted and not another. Several risk factors are at play in addiction.

What are the Risk Factors for Addiction? 

Addiction is a chronic brain disease that can affect anyone regardless of gender, race, religion, beliefs, social status, background, or financial position. A risk factor is a characteristic or condition that can raise the chance a person will develop addiction. We list below eight risk factors that can increase the chance of addiction.

Eight Risk Factors for Addiction

#1 Genetics and Familial Association

A person with close relatives who suffer from drug or alcohol addiction may have a greater chance of developing a substance use disorder. According to the National Library of Medicine, 40 percent to 60 percent of the risk of developing a drug or alcohol addiction is based on genetics. The more close relatives with substance use disorders, the greater a person’s chance of addiction. Interestingly, people with step-parents or adoptive parents addicted to drugs or alcohol are also at a higher risk of developing a substance use disorder.

#2 Early Home Environment

A person’s early home environment can put them at greater risk of addiction. Children and teenagers who experience abuse or neglect have a higher risk of addiction when they are older. Many may turn to drinking or using drugs as a way of coping with their unresolved feelings and emotions. When parents are absent or are not involved in the lives of their children or teens, some may begin experimenting with drugs or alcohol. Growing up in a household where family members drink or use drugs may normalize that behavior for some children and teens.

#3 Friends and Peer Pressure

When a person, especially a young person, is with a group of friends, they may feel pressured to drink or use drugs if others are doing it. They want to fit in or belong to the group. If a person is bullied or feels like an outcast at school, they may use substances to deal with loneliness or depression

#4  Community Environment

Living or working in a community where substance use is highly accepted may put people at a greater risk of addiction. If people in your neighborhood, social circle, or work environment have easy access to alcohol or drugs, you are more likely to drink or use drugs.

#5 A Pre-Existing Mental Health Condition

People with mental health disorders often use drugs or alcohol to cope with the stress, anxieties, and emotions caused by their disorder. If addiction develops as a result of their attempt to self-medicate, they are diagnosed with a co-occurring disorder.

Examples of mental health disorders that often co-occur with drug and alcohol addiction include:

#6 Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event at any age can cause post-traumatic stress disorder, increasing the person’s chance of developing an addiction. Traumatic events such as natural disasters, war, terrorist attacks, mass shootings, or any event where you fear for your life can result in post-traumatic stress disorder. Many military members and emergency service personnel suffer from PTSD. Physical or sexual assault, rape, being in a serious accident, being a crime victim, having serious health problems, suddenly losing a loved one, and being bullied or harassed can also result in post-traumatic stress disorder.

#7 Type of Drug Used

Certain drugs, like opioid painkillers, methamphetamines, cocaine, and heroin, can accelerate the development of addiction. People who use high doses of opioids or rapid-acting drugs are at a greater risk of developing an addiction. 

#8 Early Substance Use

The younger a person is when they begin using drugs or drinking alcohol, the greater their risk of addiction. Using substances while the brain is still developing changes the brain by altering its neural pathways. These changes put the person at a higher risk of addiction.

Are You Struggling with Addiction? Anabranch Recovery Center can help you reclaim your life

Addiction is a chronic brain disease that makes changes to your brain. Anyone can become addicted to drugs or alcohol. If you or a loved one needs help with substance abuse or addiction, you are not alone. Located in Terre Haute, Indiana, the caring professionals at Anabranch Recovery Center can help you reclaim your life. We will provide the tools you need to live a sober life. Contact Anabranch today.

About the author

Terry Hurley is a retired educational professional and freelance writer with more than fifty years of experience. A former reading specialist and learning center director, Terry loved her years working with children in the educational field. She has written extensively for print and online publications specializing in education and health issues. For the last six years, her writing focus has been on addiction and mental health issues.