Within recent years, researchers and medical professionals have concluded that addiction is more appropriately considered a disorder, namely, a substance use disorder. With this realization comes the fact that, like any medical condition, certain risk factors may predispose an individual to developing a substance use addiction.
It’s important to note, however, that just because some of these risk factors apply to you, it does not mean you are destined or guaranteed to develop an addiction. With the right preventative measures, including education on risk factors for substance use, you can better take care of yourself or provide support and care to a family member.
Family history and genetics
For someone with a family member who combats an addiction, or a running history of alcoholism or substance use disorder in the family, the risk of developing an addiction in their own life is increased. Certain genes may predispose one to struggling with substance use, but the right prevention can keep you aware and healthy.
Additionally, families with a parent or relative struggling with substance use exposes other family members to addiction, most likely at an early age. This exposure may also increase risk factors, especially if educational conversations about the dangers of substance use are not had.
People who have experienced physical, emotional or sexual abuse or trauma are more likely to develop a substance use disorder. Others who have friends who use, or those subjected to peer pressure, may also be at a greater risk.
When someone has access to addictive substances, or is exposed to media such as music and TV that depict drug and alcohol use, they are at an increased risk for developing a substance use disorder. In other words, the more frequently normalized drugs and alcohol are in your life, the less threatening and dangerous they become in your mind.
A pre-existing mental health condition
People with an existing mental health condition like depression, PTSD and ADHD are also more likely to develop a substance use disorder as a way of coping with the emotions and anxieties that these disorders cause. If you battle any of these mental health conditions, and also desire treatment for addiction, it’s important to seek out a therapist trained in helping their clients handle and cope healthily with a dual diagnosis.
Age of exposure
Children and teens exposed to alcohol and drugs at a young age are more likely to develop an addiction than older adults. This is likely because of many factors, including:
- The number of transitions a teen undergoes, such as moving from middle school to high school, or out of the home and into college life for the first time;
- The temptation to try new things and fit in with others;
- A possible lack of supervision in the home;
- A struggle with self-control and healthy decision-making skills.
While the stress of adolescence can negatively impact many teens, not everyone who undergoes these transitions will develop an addiction. But for those who do, treatment is always an option.
Using a rapidly addicting drug
Certain drugs, like cocaine or opioid painkillers, can hasten the development of an addiction. Therefore, individuals who use rapid acting drugs or strong opioids are at a higher risk of experiencing addiction, including withdrawal symptoms when usage stops.
If you have been prescribed opioid painkillers by a medical doctor, and want to lessen the risk of the brain becoming addicted to the effects, have a conversation with your doctor about less addicting medication options.
To learn more about addiction risk factors
Just because someone is at risk for developing a substance use disorder does not mean they are guaranteed to battle it during their lifetime. Possessing risk factors just means your chances of developing a substance use disorder are higher than someone who does not have these risk factors. However, by intervening early and through preventative measures like therapy and medication, you can work lower your risk and keep yourself healthy.
If you feel you could benefit from counseling to prevent or treat a substance use disorder, contact Rehab After Work today to schedule an intake appointment. Whether you’re seeking to gain more information for yourself, or want guidance in the best ways of looking out for a loved one, our therapists are here to help.
Call Rehab After Work anytime at 610-644-6464.