What are the Risk Factors of Addiction?

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What are the Risk Factors of Addiction

The most current National Survey of Drug Use and Health reports that in 2018, nearly 20 million people aged 12 or older had a substance use disorder (SUD), and over 60% of this same age group used alcohol or illicit drugs in the month prior to when the survey was conducted. [1] While the trend line for addiction hasn’t moved much within the past five years, the fact that the number of substance users is approaching two-thirds of the 12+ population is concerning since many of these drugs are highly addictive. It’s wise to be aware of the risk factors of addiction and to learn how to spot the signs of a person who may be struggling with a substance use disorder.

Early Use of Drugs

If you begin to use drugs before your brain completes its development, you could be more prone to developing an addiction. During adolescence, the part of the brain associated with emotions and memories develops earlier than the prefrontal cortex region. This is the part responsible for regulating impulses and associated with guiding decisions. [4]

Family Life

Parental neglect can be one reason why young people begin to use drugs since those adults are not available to monitor and halt their kids’ poor decision-making. And if parents are users themselves, children or adolescents may follow their example. Additionally, children or teens who are victims of parental abuse may use drugs or alcohol to cope with their distress. [5] If the abuse is ongoing and drug use continues, addiction is likely.

Social and Peer Pressure

Peer pressure doesn’t have to be aggressive for it to be effective. Young people yearn to fit in with their peers, so they may take it upon themselves to follow the lead of friends or fellow students and experiment with drugs or alcohol. [2] Access to or greater availability of harmful substances can also increase the risk that teens will participate. Considering that college campus culture seems to encourage drinking or, at the very least, does not do much to dissuade it, it’s not surprising that college students are at higher risk of developing an addiction.

Mental Health Disorders

An individual with a mental health disorder is at a greater risk of developing a substance use disorder. Drugs or alcohol may bring temporary relief for some of the symptoms associated with the mental health disorder, but the cruel irony is that continued substance use can lead to addiction as well as increasing the severity of the mental illness. [3]


Using twin studies, scientists determined years ago that genes contribute to the development of alcohol dependence. More recent studies show that genetics plays a significant role in the likelihood of becoming addicted to other drugs. [6] Heritability estimates are as high as 60 percent for alcohol addiction and 79 percent for other drugs. [6]

Fighting the Risk Factors of Addiction

If you’re currently struggling with addiction, you don’t need to suffer alone. The experienced staff at Silver Sands Recovery offers customized programs that will free you from substance dependence and teach you to live a sober life once your treatment has ended. We assign a team of trained and caring experts to plan, carry out, and monitor every part of your recovery, and we ensure that the process is safe and comfortable. Please contact us today to learn more about how we can help you to finally break the cycle of addiction.



[1] https://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/cbhsq-reports/NSDUHNationalFindingsReport2018/NSDUHNationalFindingsReport2018.pdf

[2] https://www.healthline.com/health/addiction/risk-factors#type-of-drug

[3] https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/drug-addiction/symptoms-causes/syc-20365112

[4] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3399589/

[5] https://www.healthline.com/health/addiction/risk-factors#environment

[6] https://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/arh312/111-118.pdf


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