Other risk factors

What other factors contribute to addiction?

Having addictive personality traits and certain belief systems, are a few things that might put you at risk.  Here are several other risk factors that can contribute to addiction:

  • Genetics – If anyone in your family tree suffers from addiction, you need to be aware that your risk for addiction is much greater.  For instance, “the children of addicts are 8 times more likely to develop an addiction.”
(Source: Merikangas, K. R., Stolar, M., Stevens, D. E., Goulet, J., et al., Familial transmission of substance use disorders. Arch Gen Psychiatry, 1998. 55(11): p. 973-9)
  • Early substance use – According to all the amazing brain science you’ve learned, you likely know by now that the younger you start, the more likely you are to develop an addiction. This has a lot to do with the fact that your brain is still developing and the choices you make now develop habits that are wired into your brain, and thus harder to change later.
(Source: USA.gov. “Fact Sheets – Underage Drinking.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Accessed February 24, 2014, http://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets/underage-drinking.htm.)

DID YOU KNOW? Teens who start drinking under the age of 15 are 5 times more likely to develop dependence or abuse alcohol later in life than those who start drinking at the legal age.

(Source: USA.gov. “Fact Sheets – Underage Drinking.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets/underage-drinking.htm.)
  • Mental illness – Depression, anxiety and other mood disorders have links with substance use.  Although, some people believe that addiction causes these states, most believe that addiction exacerbates (meaning, makes worse) these already existing conditions.
  • Environment – If you are raised in an environment where substance use is common, you are more likely to use as well. Also, if you are raised in a chaotic environment or one where your emotional needs are not met, you may be more at risk for addiction.
  • Trauma – Early childhood trauma, such as abuse or neglect, increases the risk of addiction later in life. This, again, has its roots in emotion management. When we can’t manage overwhelming emotions in a way that helps us, we tend to turn to more destructive “coping” mechanisms that hurt us. 
  • Peer Pressure is a risk factor as well. The more pressure you feel from friends to do drugs, the more likely you are to try them. Peer pressure, curiosity and the desire to escape are the top reasons teens start in the first place.

Notice a lot of those risks mentioned above are related to an inability to cope or manage with strong emotions. This is why learning how to manage your emotions is a HUGE part of the YSS program. 

Remember, all people can become addicted. Addiction is not prejudiced against age, race or gender. Your best defense is education and a strong sense of self. The first step in the education process is awareness. Awareness is what you are doing right here, right now. Now you are ready to take your next step….

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