Risk Factors

Addiction does not discriminate. People with the disease of alcoholism or addiction come in all sizes, shapes, and backgrounds. Substance use disorders are incredibly complex diseases. In fact, many people use drugs and alcohol and do not develop an addiction. So, what makes a person an addict? Are there specific factors that increase the risk of a substance use disorder? What are the risk factors linked to substance abuse?

The following factors are most commonly linked to substance abuse:

  • Early age substance use
  • Environmental influences
  • Genetic predisposition
  • Homelessness
  • Incarceration
  • Lack of support
  • Low health literacy
  • Poverty
  • Psychological factors

Experiencing the things above does not mean one is has a substance disorder or will develop one. Things like stress, the method in which the drug is taken, and even metabolism can play a role in addiction.

Co-Occurring Disorders and Environment

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Depending on how they interact with your brain, some substances lead to addiction more quickly than others. Certain conditions leave some individuals more vulnerable than others. When a person suffers from both a mental illness and a substance abuse disorder, this diagnosis is referred to as a co-occurring disorder or a dual diagnosis. Many people have a co-occurring disorder of some kind.

The combination of substance abuse and mental illness is difficult and not impossible to overcome. While one of the disorders may have arisen before the other, they tend to heighten one another. For instance, someone suffering from anorexia may turn to cocaine to curb their appetite, or someone with depression may turn to alcohol to make themselves temporarily feel happier. These actions are common, but there is still uncertainty about whether addiction or mental illness comes first.

Clients with both mental illness and addiction benefit significantly from drug and alcohol rehab. Treatment to address mental illness and substance use disorder simultaneously through therapy and medical intervention is highly effective. Starting in detox and continuing through aftercare treatment, comprehensive care is essential to manage symptoms caused by addiction withdrawal and mental illness. The path to a life of sobriety begins with a proper diagnosis.

In addition to the co-occurring diagnosis, it is important to recognize that environment can play a notable role in an individual’s life. Recovery treatment focuses on identifying environmental factors that may contribute to substance use and the proactive measures to take to avoid them in the future. Things like education, parental involvement, community connectivity, and emotional support can significantly impact a person’s relationship with drug and alcohol use.

No matter how many substance abuse risk factors are present in a person’s life, treatment is an option for everyone. Like other diseases, certain risk factors are associated with substance use. Factors that impact addiction include:

  • Mental illness such as anxiety and depression
  • Inability to connect with others
  • Poor performance at school or work
  • Lack of coping skills for stress
  • Unstable home life
  • Drug abuse or mental illness of parents
  • Friends who use drugs

While these factors can lay the foundation for an addiction problem, having one or more of them does not necessarily mean a person will develop an addiction problem. Nevertheless, these risk factors increase the odds that a person may find themselves struggling with drug and alcohol use.

Genetics of Addiction

Genetics plays an important factor in addiction. If either of your parents had an alcohol or drug abuse disorder, you are eight times as likely to become addicted yourself. Genetics may account for 50 percent of the probability that you develop a substance use disorder. This knowledge is a double-edged sword. However, it is not an excuse to give up. Instead, knowledge can empower you while are seeking help to overcome the hurdles leading to a successful recovery.

Do you believe that you or a loved one are suffering from a substance use disorder? Talk to our experienced addiction professionals by calling: (844) 978-1524

“At every stage, addiction is driven by one of the most powerful, mysterious, and vital forces of human existence. What drives addiction is longing — a longing not just of brain, belly, or loins but finally of the heart. ”