What Factors Increase the Risk of Addiction?

Addiction is a complex issue that can affect people of all backgrounds and beliefs. It is scientifically proven that certain individuals have higher risk factors for substance abuse and addiction than others. Genetics, family history, mental health, and the environment are some of the risk factors that can increase a person's susceptibility to addiction. In general, the more risk factors a person has, the greater the likelihood that drug use will lead to addiction.

Genetics is one of the most important factors when considering the possibility of someone developing a drug or alcohol addiction. 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. Mental health conditions, such as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety, are also contributing factors to substance abuse and addiction problems. 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. 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. 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. It is important to understand that there is no single factor that determines whether a person will become addicted to drugs. Biological factors such as age, gender or ethnicity can affect a person's risk of addiction.

Additionally, mental health issues and environmental influences can play an important role in increasing someone's risk of developing an addiction.