Risk Factors for Substance Abuse Disorders

Like any disease, there are risk factors associated with addiction. From genetic predisposition to brain characteristics, it’s key to know these risks. While having one of these risk factors for substance abuse disorders doesn’t necessarily guarantee that you will become addicted, education is crucial in preventing substance abuse.

1. Genetics

Genetics accounts for about 50% to 75% of the risk for developing substance abuse disorders. This means that is drug and alcohol addiction is common in your family, you have a higher risk of developing a substance abuse disorder yourself.

2. Environmental Factors

Environmental factors that increase your risk of a substance abuse disorder include:

  • Witnessing family members, friends, and peers using
  • Access to addictive substances
  • Exposure to media that depicts drug or alcohol use.
  • Likewise, those who have experienced physical, emotional, or sexual trauma or abuse are more likely to develop a substance abuse disorder.

3. Psychological Factors

High levels of stress increase a person’s risk of substance abuse. Similarly, those who experience underlying mental health conditions like anxiety and depression may experience addiction at higher rates.

4. Age of First Use

The age of your first use is another risk factor of addiction. In fact, a survey done by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism found that young adults between 18 and 24 were more likely to have substance abuse disorders. This is because substance use, while your brain is still developing, can make you more prone to mental health disorders.

5. Peer Pressure

The influence of friends and peers can have a significant impact on whether or not someone abuses drugs and alcohol. And in the same vein, social isolation can contribute to substance abuse as well.

6. Taking Highly Addictive Drugs

Certain drugs are more addictive than others — and your method of use can increase your risk of addiction. Drugs that are smoked or injected are more addictive than those you can swallow because they go right into your bloodstream. Similarly, drugs like cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamines are more addictive than alcohol and marijuana.

Anyone can become addicted to drugs or alcohol. Even still, knowing your risk is important as it can prevent you from developing this disease. If you or a loved one is concerned about addiction, talk to your doctor.