Addiction, also known as substance use disorder, is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), as a neurological disorder that is characterized by compulsively engaging in rewarding stimuli regardless consequence. As defined by the American Society of Addiction Medicine, addiction is a chronic medical disease involving complex interactions among brain circuits, genetics, the environment, and an individual’s life experiences. There is no single factor that can predict if a person will become addicted to drugs. A combination of factors influence the risk for addiction. The more risk factors a person has, the greater the chance that taking drugs can lead to addiction. The most significant risk factors that increase a person’s likelihood of developing substance use disorder include the following, provided by the National Institute on Drug Abuse:
- Genetics: Genetics are the number one predictor of addiction. Scientists estimate that genes account for between 40 and 60 percent of a person’s risk of addiction.
- Environmental: various environmental factors can increase one’s risk for developing substance use disorder. Normalizing drug use during one’s childhood and constant childhood exposure to drugs can raise one’s risk for addiction. Furthermore, individuals that experienced abuse, neglect, and/ or a lack of parental involvement in his or her childhood life can all be contributing factors to the potential development of addiction.
- Age of exposure: people that were exposed to and experimented with drugs at a young age are reported to be more likely to develop addiction.
- Psychological: an individual that suffers from another mental health disorder is twice as likely to have a substance use disorder, compared to the general population. Further, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), 45% of people with addiction have a co-occurring mental health disorder.
- Drug of choice: the type of substance abused, especially those with highly addictive qualities (e.g., heroin, cocaine, methamphetamines, etc.), can partially contribute to the development of substance use disorder.
- Drug delivery method: different methods of delivery such as smoking, injecting, or snorting, largely influence how quickly a drug reaches the brain. Research has shown that the faster a drug reaches the brain, the more likely it is to be addicting.
It is important to note that nobody is fully immune to addiction, though a person’s addictive tendencies may vary in terms of intensity and pervasiveness based on the risk factors mentioned above. Still, there is no definitive way of knowing why some people become addicted to drugs while others do not.
For Information and Support
If you are concerned for yourself or a loved one regarding substance abuse and/ or addiction, we recommend reaching out for help as soon as possible. If left untreated, substance abuse can result in long lasting and potentially life-threatening consequences. Keep in mind: you are not alone! There is an entire network of professionals that are available to help and support you and your loved one throughout the recovery process. The earlier you seek support, the sooner your loved one can return to a happy, healthy, and fulfilling life.
Please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions regarding our specific program at Haven House Addiction Treatment and/ or general substance abuse and/ or addiction treatment related information. Our highly trained staff is readily available to discuss how we might best be able to help you and your loved one. We can be reached by phone at 424-258-6792. You are also welcomed to contact anytime us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.