What factors play a role in addiction?

You may have heard that drug and alcohol addiction can run in families. People of all backgrounds and beliefs can experience addiction. It can be difficult to understand why some people are more likely to do so than others. Regardless of your education or moral code, many factors can increase your risk of becoming addicted to alcohol and other drugs.

Your genetics, your environment, your medical history and your age play a role. Certain types of drugs and methods of use are also more addictive than others. Addiction can happen to anyone of any origin, social status, race, or gender. However, it is scientifically proven that many people have higher risk factors for substance abuse and addiction than others.

There are certain factors that increase a person's risk of developing a drug or alcohol addiction. Genetics, family history, mental health and the environment are some of the risk factors for susceptibility to addiction. Long-term recovery may require avoiding certain people, places, situations, or other environmental factors that have caused addictive behaviors in the past, but recovery can lead to a fuller and safer life. While there are numerous factors that influence a person's risk of addiction, before analyzing them, it's important to understand exactly what addiction is.

Scientists estimate that genes, including the effects that environmental factors have on a person's gene expression, called epigenetics, account for 40 to 60 percent of a person's risk of addiction. In general, the more risk factors a person has, the greater the likelihood that drug use will lead to drug use and addiction. Another aspect of factors affecting addiction is that when a drug is injected, the high that is experienced tends to decrease more rapidly than that experienced when someone takes the medication by mouth. Genetics is just one of the risk factors when considering the possibility of someone developing a drug or alcohol addiction.

An important factor to consider is how mental health and addictions are linked and impact each other. While many people have multiple factors that contribute to their addiction, others may have only a few and some may have only one factor contributing to their addiction. The social determinants of health are the social and economic conditions of a person's life that can play an important role in a person's overall well-being and can affect problems related to addiction and substance use. Substances that are available in a person's social group can also increase risk factors for addiction.

As with other diseases and disorders, the likelihood of developing an addiction varies from person to person, and there is no single factor that determines whether a person will become addicted to drugs. Biological factors that can affect a person's risk of addiction include their genes, developmental stage, and even gender or ethnicity. Mental health conditions, such as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety, are also contributing factors to substance abuse and addiction problems.