Pretty young woman looking into the camera with her boyfriend out of focus in the background

Addiction is a disease that inhibits the mind, body, and soul from functioning in a normal and meaningful way. Some individuals become extremely mentally and physically dependent on drugs to cope with a wide range of stressors in their everyday lives.

But why do some people fall victim to addiction and others do not?

There are many reasons why some people become addicted to drugs more easily. The risk factors associated with drug addiction include genetic, environmental, psychological, and social factors. Understanding the risk factors associated with drug abuse can help you or someone you love be proactive and seek early treatment.

What is Drug Addiction?

Drug addiction is a disease that progressively rots the individual’s mind, body and soul and causes impaired judgement and behavior. People who use drugs over prolonged periods of time become mentally and physically dependent on the drug and this causes a multitude of chronic health problems.

Individuals use drugs to feel good, to cope with traumatic events, or to release the pain felt by everyday stressors. Their compulsive behaviors and dependence on drugs make it increasingly difficult to overcome their addiction alone.

Critical risk factors in an individual’s genetics and environment may make it easier to become addicted to drugs.

Genetic Risk Factors of Drug Addiction

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “genetic factors account for between 40 and 60 percent of a person’s vulnerability to addiction; this includes the effects of environmental factors on the function and expression of a person’s genes.” It is important to note that individuals who have a family history of drug addiction have an increased risk for also becoming addicted to drugs.

However, the individual’s environment plays a critical role in enhancing or diminishing one’s chances of drug addiction. Even if individuals have a family history of drug addiction but are surrounded by supportive family, positive friends, and a clean environment, their likelihood for drug addiction decreases. This is due to the fact that they are immersed in a drug free environment and are supported by friends and family members.

In contrast, if individuals are influenced by negative factors in their environment, it enhances their chances of becoming addicted to drugs to cope with the stressors in their daily lives.

Environmental Risk Factors of Drug Addiction

Home life. Individuals who have experienced a traumatic event in childhood, unsupportive parents, or have been neglected at home all increase a person’s risk for drug abuse. Additionally, people who have experienced a divorce, are victims of verbal or physical abuse, or have intense feelings of loneliness may also become addicted to drugs more easily to cope with the pain.

Peers. Friends play a tremendous role in everyone’s lives. Individuals want to fit in and feel accepted. If individuals are peer pressured into using drugs in social settings, this strongly influences their chances of addiction.

Work. Individuals who experience extreme pressure at work or who struggle with maintaining stable employment may be more vulnerable to drug abuse. Feelings of stress and anxiety from work related factors can cause individuals to turn to drugs to cope. For instance, an inability to receive a stable paycheck can cause high stress levels and impulsive behaviors that may lead to becoming addicted more easily.

Psychological and Social Risk Factors of Drug Addiction

Psychological disorder.- If individuals are diagnosed with anxiety, PTSD, depression, or other psychological disorders, it may increase the risk of drug addiction if not treated. Psychological disorders also develop due to an array of environmental stressors. When people have difficulty completing everyday responsibilities, holding meaningful relationships, dealing with a painful experience, or are experiencing intense feelings of hopelessness, symptoms of psychological disorders can lead to using drugs as a way of coping.

Use of gateway drugs. Although gateway drugs, such as alcohol and marijuana, may appear harmless in small amounts, the elated feelings felt from these substances may actually begin a lifelong habit. According to researchers at Columbia University, teens between the ages of 12 and 17 who use gateways drugs such as alcohol, nicotine, and marijuana are 266 times more likely to use cocaine than those who do not use gateway drugs. The introduction and social use of drugs at a very young age is extremely dangerous and ultimately makes it easier for individuals to become addicted to harder substances.

Choose a “Whole-person” Approach

Understanding the risk factors associated with drug addiction is vital for recognizing individuals who are more susceptible to drug abuse. If you or someone you love is easily susceptible to drug addiction, taking preventative measures and seeking early treatment can stop a lifelong dependence on drugs. Choosing a treatment center that focuses on a “whole-person approach” will ensure that individuals are cared for in mind, body, and soul. Effective treatment for drug addiction that includes an individually designed treatment plan, individual and group therapy sessions, and a wide-range of program options administers hope to the individual to fully recover from their drug addiction.

Covenant Hills Treatment is a faith-based addiction treatment facility in Orange County, California and San Antonio, Texas. Covenant Hills emphasizes a whole person approach to care and clients work with pastors, therapists, and counselors who are professionally trained in the Christian-based treatment program. Staff help individuals connect to a larger community of God and support the process of finding purpose again in one’s life beyond their addiction.

Do you need help, or is a loved one struggling with addiction? Please call us today at (888) 662-2873. This is a free, confidential call and assessment.