Today, it is really hard to tell if someone is an addict or not because many addicts do not fit the stereotype that media and society has created. In fact, any one can fall into the trap called addiction regardless of age, sex or economic and social status.
Many experts agree that there are certain risk factors that affect someone’s likelihood and speed of developing an addiction, especially for drugs. Research suggest risk factors that increase a person’s chances for addiction, while there are protective factors that can reduce it.
These risk and protective factors can affect children or people at different stages of their lives, and identification and intervention is important.
Drug Addiction Risk Factors:
- Family history of addiction. Studies show that drug addiction involves genetic predisposition. This means that a person who comes from a family of alcohol or drug addiction may also have an increased risk of being addicted.
- Being male. Men are more likely to develop substance abuse while women are known to progress faster into addiction than men.
- Peer pressure. Young people are most easily coerced into taking drugs and eventually abuse it due to peer pressure and the desire to fit in.
- Mental health problem. Those who are undergoing mental health disorders such as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), as well as anxiety or depression, are more likely to become dependent on drugs as a way to cope.
- Lack of family bond. Family problems, neglect of family or lack of family ties, can increase risk of addiction. This is also true for those individuals who don’t experience much supervision and guidance from family members.
- Taking “light drugs.” Taking “light drugs” such as inhalants or marijuana can start a person on a pathway of drug abuse and eventually addiction to other drugs, even stronger ones such as cocaine.
It is important to mention that having these factors does not always equate to someone being an addict, in a way that a person who grow up with parents who are both drug addicted may choose to live his life never touching any addictive drugs.
Researches also outline five risk factors and protective factors that many levels of society can affect:
- Risk Factor: Early Agressive Behavior. This can occur in children or teens who tend to be violent or cause trouble. This displays lack of self-control and discipline. Protective Factor: Self-Control. A way to counter the risk factor is to teach children about discipline and self-control especially in certain situations.
- Risk Factor: Lack of Parental Supervision. Those who grow up without parents or those who do not spend time with their parents may easily fall prey to addiction. Protective Factor: Parental Monitoring. The role of the parent is important in preventing addiction from developing in a growing child.
- Risk Factor: Substance Abuse. Being within a social group of drug users can more likely put a teen or even an adult in a position where they can be pressured to take drugs too. This is a very common peer pressure problem. Protective Factor: Academic Competence. It is important to give a person at risk for addiction other hobbies or to take them away from people or situations that will lead them to using drugs. For younger adults, allowing them to excel in school, whether academically or not, can give them motivation and keep them out of drugs.
- Risk Factor: Drug Availability. Areas where drug use is prevalent and even often sold, sometimes out in the open, can lead people to most likely try the drugs for themselves. Protective Factor: Anti-Drug Use Policies. Whether in school or in the local community, anti-drug use policies must be put in place by authorities to help get rid of drugs in their midst.
- Risk Factor: Poverty. The low quality of life and lack of sustainability and community can be a factor in molding a family and the life in it, which can be a risk factor for drug addiction. Protective Factor: Community Involvement. Many countries call for their communities to be involved in the war against drug because people should work together to create a drug-free environment where their children can grow up without having the need or compulsion to try drugs and depend on it as an escape or as an unbreakable habit.
Many experts say that a person, especially a teen associating himself with drug-abusing peers is one of the most immediate and strongest risk factor for drug exposure and delinquency. However, there are also other factors, such as drug trafficking patterns and beliefs that drug abuse is “cool” and should be tolerated. It is important for families, communities, and governments should work together to help prevent these risks from taking shape into addiction and ruin not only the people themselves who are addicted but the very fabrics of the societies they belong in.
If you have identified risk factors in your own children, it is best to start protective measures now. Learn more about drug addiction here in our blog. You can also call or text us for advice or inquiries into intervention and rehabilitation: