Risk Factors of Addiction

stacked dice

There is currently no exact way to predict who will become addicted to a substance and who will not. The best guideline is an individual’s history – if they were addicted to something before, they are more prone to becoming addicted to something else. Obviously, this isn’t very helpful except in cases where a doctor may decide to use a drug that is less habit forming in treating those with a positive history.

If you think you might have a problem with drugs or alcohol, call 877-331-2545 for more information about treatment options.

Two general ideas about addiction risk factors

The two most common ways to look at risk factors are patient based and drug based.

One says that the patient is the weakest link and depending on their genetic and psychological makeup, they will be more likely to become addicted. The second focuses on the drugs themselves, labeling them on a scale of how habit forming they are, regardless of who takes them.

These two ideas are the who and the what of addiction. The true picture is probably a mixture.

Drug laws generally focus on the what – and make illegal or regulate all drugs that are habit forming, even though not all users become addicted. Once in treatment, the focus is usually on the who – patients are treated based on their individual problems instead of whatever drug they preferred.

Risk factors for addiction

A risk factor is an indirect element of a disease; it is not a cause or symptom. While risk factors may compromise defenses against a disease, they do not in and of themselves predict outcomes. Alternitavely, the lack of risk factors does not prevent disease.

Some risk factors that can facilitate a person's slide into addiction include:

  • A medical condition, such as pain that requires narcotics. Especially chronic pain that is not helped by surgery.
  • Anxiety, depression or other psychological ailment that seems to be helped by drugs, either legal or illegal.
  • Difficulty in social situations where drug use either gives confidence or helps connect with peers.
  • Easy access to drugs – either because of one’s social network or profession.
  • Boredom and a feeling that life isn’t working out as envisioned.
  • A propensity for risk taking behaviors and desire for excitement beyond those that are legally accepted.
  • Family history of addiction.
  • Situational problems – fatigue and amphetamines; stress and alcohol/narcotics; obesity and ‘uppers’; combating one drug problem with another substance.

photo by Clix

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