Not everyone who uses a drug develops an addiction. That may be one of the reasons why some people think drug addiction is the result of weakness. However, it is a chronic disease that causes long-term changes to the brain. Research has shown that there is no single factor that causes drug addiction. However, there are certain risk factors which some people more prone than others. The more risk factors an individual has, the more likely it is that taking drugs will lead to addiction. However, being more at risk for drug addiction doesn’t guarantee that an individual will use drugs or become addicted. There are several protective factors which can reduce the risk like good self-control, positive relationships, and a strong support system. Let’s look at some of the risk factors.
Early Drug Use
Addiction can develop in people who begin using drugs at any age. However, the earlier an individual begins using, the more likely it is that they will face problems. This may be because drugs have a serious effect on brains which are still developing. Kids and teens also more likely to take risks and experiment. This could be compounded by other issues like an unstable home, sexual or physical abuse, and mental illness.
Family History and Genetics
As is the case with other chronic illnesses like diabetes and heart disease, genetics play a role in addiction. People with a history of drug addiction in their family are genetically more vulnerable. It’s important to note that genetics don’t guarantee that an individual will become addicted. However, it means it will be harder for them to stop using the addictive substance once they start. Researchers estimate that genes account for 40 to 60 percent of an individual’s risk of becoming addicted.
Home, Family, and Community
The environment in the home and community contributes in large part to the risk of addiction, especially in children. Kids who grow up in an abusive home or with older relatives who abuse drugs are at an increased risk. So are those raised by people who break the law. Individuals who live in an impoverished or dangerous community can also be more likely to become addicted to drugs. Generally, if drug abuse is common in a community, this can lead to addiction in residents.
School and Peer Group
Peer pressure has a strong influence on teenagers. Even teens who don’t have other risk factors can be swayed by their friends who use drugs. Teenagers with weak social skills or poor academic performance are more likely to begin using drugs. When other risk factors are present, teens are even more prone to drug use, abuse, and addiction.
People with disorders like anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and attention deficit disorder are at greater risk of addiction. In addition, addiction increases the severity of these conditions. This means that addiction often progresses quickly, and the consequences can be severe. Individuals may feel the drugs ease their depression for a short time. However, in the long-term, their condition is likely to get worse.
Some physical conditions can also foster addiction. People who are prescribed pain medications after surgery or for severe pain can be at risk for drug addiction. Injuries or illnesses which force lifestyle changes can also encourage individuals to use drugs as a coping mechanism.
Drug of Choice
Addiction can progress differently depending on which drug an individual uses. Some addictions develop over months or years while others advance much more quickly. Methamphetamines, cocaine, and heroin are usually more physically addictive than marijuana or alcohol. With heroin and cocaine, withdrawal can be physically painful. Addicts may therefore take higher doses and take them more frequently to avoid going through withdrawal. This can speed up the addiction process and increase the risk of complications including overdosing.
How The Drug Is Taken
Smoking a drug or using it intravenously makes it more addictive. When drugs are taken in these ways, it takes just seconds for them to enter the brain and produce strong effects. However, this high fades in a few minutes. The stark difference in mood is believed to be what causes some people to take drugs repeatedly.
Reach Out to Asheville Recovery Center for Drug Addiction Help Today!
Drug addiction is treatable, no matter what causes it. The best programs address the cause of the addiction and the contributing factors. They also take any other mental and physical conditions into consideration. If you believe you or a loved one needs help dealing with addiction, contact us for a consultation. Our highly trained staff take an individual approach to each client.