What Risk Factors are Linked to Higher Rates of Substance Abuse?

What Risk Factors are Linked to Higher Rates of Substance Abuse?

So what are the risk factors related to higher rates of substance abuse? What if you would have known your vulnerability to develop an addiction years ago?

Would that have changed the way you look at drugs and alcohol? Experimenting with these substances is normal during the teenage years, but it can lead to addiction. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to know who will get hooked and who won’t, leading many teens to experiment without fully understanding the risks. 

Even though there’s no definite way to identify potential addicts, there are risk factors to be aware of. By acknowledging these factors, you can better understand your own personal risk profile and how to protect yourself from the cycle of addiction. 

Before we start, it’s important to point out that addiction does not discriminate. It can happen to anyone. Just because a person has a lot of risk factors does not mean they will develop an addiction and vice versa. Knowing your risk factors simply makes you more aware of how likely you are to develop a problem. 

What Makes Some People More Vulnerable to Addiction? 

Let’s explore the main factors that raise the risk of developing a substance use disorder

  • Family history of addiction. Addiction runs in some families just as other chronic conditions do. This can happen from both genetics and environmental conditions. If you see your parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, etc. using drugs and alcohol, you’re more likely to as well.
  • Mental health concerns. Having a mental health condition raises your chances of addiction. There are several reasons for this depending on the type of mental illness you have. For example, people with ADHD are often impulsive, which is a trait of addiction. People with depression or anxiety may self-medicate to manage their feelings. 
  • Behavioral or impulse control problems. If you have trouble controlling impulses, or you enjoy taking risks, you’re more likely to struggle with substance abuse. These traits are found in the “addictive personality” profile. 
  • Exposure to trauma. Having a history of trauma is a big risk factor for addiction. Trauma comes in all forms and people process it differently. Whether you’ve experienced trauma, witnessed trauma, or endured repeated trauma, it’s possible that you may turn to drugs and alcohol to numb the pain. 
  • Environmental factors. Any time drugs and alcohol are in an environment, it increases the chances that a person will try them. Also, having a lack of parental supervision or family interaction makes it even easier to gamble with drugs. 
  • Age of first use. People who start using drugs and alcohol at an earlier age are more likely to become addicted. The brain is still developing and more susceptible to long-lasting changes. This is why delaying experimentation is critical. 

Be Aware that Risk Factors Change 

It’s important to know that risk factors do change over time. Some people don’t start abusing drugs and alcohol until they are older and have gone through a traumatic experience or have trouble managing their responsibilities. 

Because every stage of life has new pressures and uncertainties, it’s best to assess your risk from time to time. For example, if you start a new job but it’s filled with social pressure, competition, long hours, etc., you may be tempted to escape using drugs and alcohol. This could be compounded if your new coworkers go out for drinks every night. 

young boy going through trauma

Yes, Protective Factors Can Reduce Your Addiction Risk

Just as there are factors that raise the risk of developing an addiction, there are also protective factors that reduce this risk. If you are concerned about yourself or a loved one developing an addiction, pay close attention to the following: 

  • Develop strong individual skills. At the individual level, it’s important that you have a positive self-image, good self-control, and appropriate social skills. If you lack in any of these departments, be proactive by taking a life skills class or meeting with a therapist. 
  • Supervise kids and teens. Kids and teens need rules, boundaries, and proper supervision. These rules give them structure and help teach them right from wrong. Children who come from close-knit, supportive families are less likely to have drug problems. 
  • Maintain a sober environment. When drugs are readily available, it’s easy for people to agree to try them. Make sure that all prescription medications, alcohol, etc. are kept in locked cabinets. Many addictions start at home, specifically, in the medicine cabinet. 
  • Stay active in hobbies, activities, etc. Find ways to stay busy and active. Playing sports, volunteering in your community, or doing your favorite hobbies will enrich your days. Not only do they keep you busy, but also they give your life meaning and purpose. 
  • Communicate openly. It’s important that kids and teens know their addiction risk. Have open conversations with your family about the dangers of substance abuse. 
  • Build a strong social circle. If the people you spend time with use drugs and alcohol, it’s easier for you to as well. Build a supportive social circle that will not put you in harm’s way. 

Know Where to Go for Addiction Help 

Addiction treatment in Agoura has come a long way. It’s more flexible and personalized than ever before. You can attend therapy a couple of times a week to get the support you need, or you can live in a sober house that is free from toxic influences. 

Awakenings Treatment Center offers intensive outpatient drug rehab in Agoura. We are opening a detox center in October 2020, and we can recommend sober housing if need be. By offering a full continuum of care for our clients, we’re able to help them at all stages of the recovery process. 

As a holistic treatment center, you can expect a wide range of alternative therapies to support your recovery - neurofeedback, art therapy, acupuncture, massage therapy, and more. This way, you can recover from your addiction, treat underlying trauma or mental illness, and learn to take better care of yourself. The only one who can stop the cycle of abuse is YOU.

Contact us today to learn more about our intensive outpatient program and how it can support your recovery.