Drug abuse is a severe problem that affects millions of Americans yearly, causing health, mental, and relationship problems. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) estimates that there were 24.5 million drug and alcohol addicts in the United States in 2013, and that those numbers are likely to expand by 8.5% yearly. While addiction affects men and women and even children in every age and economic group, some factors have been shown to increase the likelihood of drug use and addiction.
Whether you are a drug user, are checking for a friend, or are researching for your own reasons, it’s important to understand that every drug user has their own motivations. Drug abuse is most often considered a disease and blaming someone for their use is never a solution. Instead, adopting a policy of taking responsibility for getting or staying clean and taking positive steps to improve mental and physical well being can help people to get clean and stay clean.
- Genetics – While the correlation between drug use and family history is not well understood, it is a well accepted fact that people with a family history of drug use and dependence are more likely to become addicts themselves. The primary correlation is that persons raised in environments with substance abusers are more likely to develop psychologically in a way that encourages addiction. However, studies, including one by the University of Utah directly correlate specific genes with addiction. For example, the A1 allele on the DRD2 dopamine receptor is more common on persons who are addicted to cocaine or alcohol. And mice with a low expression of a Mpdz gene exhibit severe withdrawal symptoms from sedative drugs. There is no gene that automatically makes someone into an addict, but genes are an influencing factor in addiction, because they affect how we react and experience drugs.
- Lack of Options – One of the most famous Ted Talks of all time discusses an experiment using rats, where rats in an empty cage are 100% likely to be addicted to drug laced water and rats in a fun environment with friends are significantly less likely to be addicted. This study was called Rat Park, and it catalogued the fact that persons who don’t have options, whether financially, personally, or otherwise, are much more likely to become addicts. This means that boredom, debt, poverty, stress, and even the lack of a stimulating environment all contribute to drug use and addiction.
- Mental Health Disorders – It’s a well accepted fact that many persons with existing disorders are more likely to turn to drugs, alcohol, and cigarettes. In one study labeled Smoking and Schizophrenia, doctors studied the correlation of self medication and mental disorders. Many persons who have mental disorders are up to three times as likely to use drugs or alcohol recreationally.
- Peer Pressure – Having friends or loved ones who are addicted to or use drugs recreationally makes it statistically more likely for someone to use them themselves. Peer pressure is a significant factor in beginning drug use, among teens and adults. While some studies correlate the fact that persons who are more likely to use drugs are more likely to choose drug users as friends, others show that the simple desire to keep up appearances with friends does contribute to starting drug use as well as to preventing users from quitting.
- Anxiety and Depression – Anxiety and depression, whether chronic disorders or acute issues, greatly increase the risk factors for drug use. Anxiety and depression both greatly increase the risk factors for starting drugs, but also influence drug use by making the person more susceptible to other risk factors. For example, self medication, or taking drugs to feel better or to ‘forget’ about issues is a common reason, but these issues also make users more open to peer pressure, more likely to be taking prescription drugs, and more likely to feel hopeless.
- Loneliness – If you are lonely you are significantly more likely to use drugs and alcohol as a solution to feel better. In the Rat Park experiment, rats that had friends in the cage were significantly less likely to use drugs. This applies to humans as well. If you have a strong relationship with family and friends, you are significantly less likely to use or become addicted to drugs than if you are lonely, out of touch, or have little to no family support.
- Prescription Drugs – Prescription drugs present a very high risk factor for drug addiction, simply because many of them are highly addictive. Prescription painkillers, sedatives, antidepressants, and many other types of prescription drugs can easily lead to physical and mental dependence by flooding the dopamine receptors in the brain. If not monitored appropriately, prescription drugs could lead to long-term drug addiction.
There are many risk factors associated with drug use, and they can vary a great deal from person to person. No one chooses to become an addict which is why it is important to remember that addiction is not the user’s fault. However, it is the user’s responsibility – especially once they realize they are an addict – to seek out help and to get clean.
Beginnings Treatment Centers provide modern and effective programs for the treatment of substance abuse addiction and alcoholism. Our addiction treatment centers are located in beautiful and sunny Southern California in Orange County, which has one of the strongest and most active recovery communities in the United States. If you or a loved one is currently experiencing a problem with addiction, or if you are concerned and not sure, please Contact Beginnings Treatment Centers Now.