Addiction does not discriminate no matter where you come from, how much money you have, or what beliefs you hold. The disease can affect anyone, even if it can be challenging to understand. Some individuals are more at risk of developing an addiction due to certain factors such as genetics, environment, mental health, and more. If a person has multiple risk factors, they are more likely to use and become dependent on drugs and alcohol eventually. By understanding these factors and how they contribute to the development of addiction, you can take steps to help yourself or others avoid falling down the rabbit hole.
Addiction Can Be Genetic
In school, you most likely learned about genetics, such as how traits are passed down. If your mom has brown eyes, for example, you most likely have brown eyes too. This is the same for certain mental health conditions, including addiction. Many people believe that addiction is a sign of weakness or lack of willpower due to the stigma surrounding the disease. However, addiction can often be caused by genetics or at least put you at risk of developing one.
If you have a family member who struggles with addiction, especially a parent, you could be at risk of having one later. This doesn’t always result in the same addiction, meaning your parent could struggle with cocaine addiction, but you could develop alcoholism instead. It should also be noted that just because your family member has an addiction, this doesn’t mean that you will develop one too. It simply means that you have a higher risk of having one. You can take steps to avoid this, though through education and informed decisions.
Mental Health Has an Impact
It is not uncommon for addiction to occur alongside another mental health disorder, known as a co-occurring disorder. Common conditions that co-occur with addiction include depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder, but others are possible such as schizophrenia and borderline personality disorder. Many individuals are more at risk of addiction due to mental health issues because they may use drugs and alcohol as a form of self-medication.
However, addiction can exacerbate mental health symptoms, trapping you in a cycle of self-medication and worsening mental health. Treating both disorders simultaneously is crucial to set the person up for a successful recovery rather than just treating one at a time, which might make recovery less successful in the long run.
Your Environment Can Play a Role
When you think of your environment, you may think it only refers to your immediate surroundings. However, the people and behaviors you grow up with and spend your time around can significantly impact your risk of addiction. For example, if you grew up experiencing neglect, abuse, or trauma, you are at a higher risk of developing an addiction than those that didn’t. If you are around individuals who engage in risky behaviors such as drug use, you risk practicing those same behaviors. Peer pressure plays a significant role in whether someone runs a risk for addiction because people often want to fit into their social groups. This is why it is best to surround yourself with good influences and practice behaviors that support healthy living.
Using Drugs During Adolescence
Your body is still developing when you are a teenager, meaning using drugs and alcohol during your adolescent years can impact your brain’s development. The damage inflicted by repeated drug or alcohol use during these formative years can make you more likely to develop mental health disorders or addiction later on.
Using drugs or alcohol at a young age can also cause teens to engage in other risky behaviors such as drunk driving and unprotected sex. For these reasons, it is crucial to make specific decisions concerning who you spend your time with and how you spend your teen years. It is understandable to want to rebel, but it is never worth putting your life and future at risk.
How to Prevent Addiction
If you possess one or more of these risk factors, this means that you pose a higher risk of developing an addiction. However, you can prevent this from happening by making specific lifestyle choices and educating yourself on the disorder. Talking to your doctor is recommended, especially if you have multiple risk factors. Talking to your doctor will help you make healthy decisions regarding your future so you can avoid any possibility of addiction. If you need further help, consider counseling or medication to help you lead a happy and healthy life.
Many risk factors can impact someone developing an addiction. While these don’t necessarily point to a certainty of addiction, they increase your chances compared to someone who possesses no risk factors. For these reasons, it is critical to educate yourself on these risk factors for addiction to identify them in your own life. If you recognize some, talking to a doctor or mental health specialist can help you strategize how to avoid the possibility of addiction in your life. If you need guidance, NorthStar Transitions is here to answer all of your questions. We work with a variety of individuals struggling with mental health and addiction concerns. We also provide education for those who need it. Using traditional and holistic treatment methods, we can assure you that you will find healing at NorthStar. To learn more about our programs and begin your journey to recovery, call us today at (303) 558-6400.