The Most Common Risk Factors for Becoming a Substance Abuser
Given the right set of circumstances, almost anyone can develop an addiction. Substance abusers come from all walks of life. No one is exempt. However, over the last 20 years, researchers have identified 10 risk factors that can significantly increase the odds of becoming a substance abuser.
1. Being male. Men are more likely than women to develop addictions. Once the addiction takes hold, however, the progression of the disease is faster in women.
2. Family history. Addiction seems to have a genetic component. If you have family members who are substance abusers, you are more likely to become a substance abuser yourself.
3. Having a mental health problem. People who suffer from anxiety disorder, depression, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are more likely than others to develop problems with alcohol and drugs.
4. Daily use of alcohol and/or highly addictive drugs. Regular use of alcohol and highly addictive drugs does not, in and of itself, make you a substance abuser. However, given time, daily drug or alcohol use can increase the risk factors for becoming a substance abuser, especially with drugs like heroin and crack cocaine.
5. Feeling disconnected from family and friends. When parents, friends, and family members are unavailable, detached or inaccessible, a person may turn to alcohol and drugs for comfort.
6. Peer pressure. Risk factors for becoming a substance abuser include peer pressure to experiment with addictive substances. This is especially true for teens.
7. Loneliness. Loneliness can increase the odds of becoming a substance abuser. Lonely people sometimes form relationships with addictive substances to make up for not being able to have relationships with people.
8. Experimenting with drugs and alcohol at a young age. The earlier a person starts experimenting with drugs and alcohol, the more likely they are to develop a substance abuse problem later in life.
9. Excessive levels of stress. People who experience a great deal of stress on a regular basis are more likely than others to turn to drugs and alcohol to decompress and lessen the intensity of the stressful feelings.
10. Ability to consume large quantities of drugs or alcohol. Some people need more drugs or alcohol than others to get the same effect.
Recent Research Findings About Risk Factors For Becoming A Substance Abuser
A recent study by the World Health Organization (WHO) found that besides the ten risk factors for substance abuse listed above, there are additional risk factors for becoming a substance abuser as well:
o Availability of addictive substances
o Being a victim of child abuse or parental neglect
o Traumatic experiences in childhood
o Occupations where drinking and drugging are encouraged
o Traumatic changes in the family during the first few years of life
o Exposure to criminal activities as a child
Most people with substance abuse risk factors do not become addicts or alcoholics. At the same time, people with few or no risk factors for becoming a substance abuser become addicts and alcoholics anyway. It’s also important to keep in mind that a risk factor for one person might not be a risk factor for someone else.