Risk Factors For Addiction Why Are Some People More Prone Than Others
Having one or more of these addiction risk factors does not mean a person will become addicted, but it does mean their odds are greater.
There are several risk factors which predispose someone to drug or alcohol abuse. Genetics play a role but so does environment, trauma, coping-skills, emotional regulation and an internal or external locus of control. With this said, addiction is not a matter of willpower - it is a serious condition and should be treated as such.
Common Risk Factors for Addiction
If you have a family member who has a history of substance abuse, you are more likely to eventually have the same issue yourself. Studies conducted on twins have found that 40 percent of addictions to drugs and alcohol have a genetic component.
- Gender : Males tend to be more likely to become addicted to alcohol or drugs than their female counterparts.
- Type of Substance : Some substances are more addictive, crack, cocaine and heroin, tend to become physically addictive fastest.
- Age of First Exposure to Addictive Substance : Individuals that start drinking or using addictive substances at an early age often get trapped into addictive lifestyles easier than individuals that only start using substances in adulthood.
- Peer Pressure : Peer groups are highly influential in the starting of many addictions, specifically in regards to teens and adolescents.
- Relationship with Family : Children that grow up without a sense of attachment or belonging to their family are at a very high risk of developing addictions as opposed to children with close family bonds.
- Living with a Mental Illness : Depression, anxiety or schizophrenia are psychological conditions that frequently accompany drug or alcohol addictions.
- High Stress Levels : People under immense stress very often find ways to soothe themselves using addictive substances.
Family history factors that influence a child’s formative years has been demonstrated to an heightened risk of substance abuse, such as
- Chaotic family / home environment
- Ineffective parenting
- Lack of nurturing and parental attachment
- Parental drug use or addiction
Other risk factors for substance abuse include
- (ADHD) attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
- History of anxiety, depression or other similar mood disorders
- Conduct disorder or antisocial personality disorder
Factors related to a child’s socialisation outside the family may also increase risk of drug abuse, including inappropriately aggressive or shy behaviour in the classroom
- Poor social coping skills
- Poor school performance
- Association with a deviant peer group or isolating oneself from peers altogether, perception of approval of drug-use behaviour.
If a parent believes his or her child may be drinking or using drugs, here are some things to watch for:
- Physical evidence of drugs and drug paraphernalia
- Behavioural problems and poor grades in school
- Emotional distancing, isolation, depression or fatigue
- Change in friendships or extreme influence by peers
- Hostility, irritability or change in level of cooperation around the house
- Lying or increased evasiveness about after school or weekend whereabouts
- Decrease in interest in personal appearance
- Physical changes such as bloodshot eyes, runny nose, frequent sore throats, rapid weight loss
- Changes in mood, eating or sleeping patterns
- Dizziness and memory problems