When considering what might have contributed to your own or a loved one’s addiction, it’s important to be aware of the many factors that are involved in triggering a drug or alcohol addiction. This knowledge can help you to understand why some people become addicts and some do not, and it could also help tremendously during the addiction treatment process when working to avoid triggers for relapse. Here are some of the most common risk factors for addiction to consider.
According to the American Psychological Association, as much as 50 percent of a person’s tendency toward drug or alcohol addiction is rooted in genetics. The role of genetics is complex, of course, but genes can affect addiction likelihood in that they influence the intensity of euphoric reaction to drugs, how quickly an individual reacts to a drug, and whether an individual experiences negative consequences of a drug.
On a similar note, mental illness can be a major trigger for addiction. Addiction can and often does start as a form of self-medication for mental illnesses such as depression or anxiety. This is why finding addiction recovery treatment options that also treat co-occurring mental illnesses are so important.
Major traumas such as physical abuse, sexual abuse, natural disasters, accidents that lead to significant injuries, or neglect during childhood are also major triggers for addiction, as they, too, are often self-medicated with drugs and alcohol.
Even stress arising from work, school, raising children, the loss of a loved one, or even loneliness can be enough to set a regular user over the edge—especially if other factors are present.
The environment in which an individual is raised can have a major impact on future drug or alcohol use. Homes that see divorce, weak family connection, or the negative effects of mental illness are more likely to produce individuals who become drug abusers as they get older. The availability of drugs or alcohol in or nearby the home is also a major factor. Those who grow up in communities heavily affected by drug use or who are around parents who use are much more likely to experiment with drugs and alcohol from a young age.
They say that you become like the people you spend most of your time around, and this is especially true with drug and alcohol use. The pressures to conform to a desired social group are especially strong for adolescents.
Those who need a higher dose of a substance to experience its effects are more likely to become addicted. This might explain why men are almost twice as likely as women to have problems with drugs.
Those considered to have an “addictive personality” are considered to be at higher risk for drug or alcohol addiction, as well. Personality traits that can put a person at higher risk for addiction include a tendency to act impulsively, weak self control, low self-esteem, and antisocial tendencies.