Why do some people smoke, drink and use drugs without developing dependence, while others seem to become addicted at the drop of a hat? It is a puzzle with no simple answers. However, there are certain factors that increase the probability that a person will become addicted.
- Genetics play an important role; addiction is more common in some families. Studies indicate that a person with a blood relative who is addicted is two to four more times more likely to become addicted or substance-dependent. However, vulnerability varies and it is important to remember that not all children with an addicted family member will become addicted themselves.
- Family behavior also impacts the risk of addiction. For example, people who were abused or neglected as children have a higher likelihood of becoming dependent or addicted because they tend to use substances as a coping mechanism. If they do not become addicted, they might suffer from co-dependency or trauma, the aftermath of childhood abuse is called "adverse childhood experiences" and is nowadays acknowledged and its impact can be measured and treated.
- People who go through life with deep family attachments are less likely to develop an addiction.
- According to Harvard Medical School, men are twice as likely as women to develop dependence. However, all is not rosy for women, as females tend to become addicted more quickly, and to experience social and medical consequences faster than their male counterparts.
- Research has shown that people who use addictive substances at a young age are more likely to become addicted, and the younger the user, the higher the opportunity for addiction. People who don’t use until after age 21 are less likely to become addicted. Peer pressure is often the reason for early use of drugs and alcohol.
- The risk of addiction depends largely on the substance. Some drugs, including cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine, are so addictive that for some people, even a single use can result in addiction.
- People with mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), PTSD (Post Traumatic Shock Disorder), and OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) are more likely to develop an addiction. This is largely because, understandably, people tend to self-medicate to make themselves feel better.
If you or a loved one is concerned about substance abuse or dependence on drugs or alcohol, speak with a physician or a qualified therapist, or get in touch with us. We will help you deal with your addiction in a caring, professional manner that sets you on the path to a new, satisfying life. You are not alone in this.