What Are Risk Factors for Addiction

What Are Risk Factors For Addiction

Addiction has become one of the most pressing public health issues in the world. This has many people wondering what the risk factors are for addiction. In this blog post, we will discuss what risk factors are and identify some of the most common risk factors for addiction.

It’s important to note that there are many factors that could play a role in a person’s risk of abusing substances. Just because a person displays certain factors or characteristics doesn’t mean they’re destined to become addicted.

What are risk factors?

Before we discuss different risk factors for addiction, it’s important to understand what a risk factor actually is. Risk factors are characteristics or conditions that can increase a person’s chances of developing a disease.

Statistically speaking a risk factor is a type of correlate. A correlate is a variable that is associated, either positively or negatively, with a specific outcome. Addiction risk factors are developed based on data from people who have suffered from substance use disorder.

Just because certain risk factors apply to a person, doesn’t mean that they’re guaranteed to struggle with addiction. It simply means that people displaying those traits or characteristics have suffered from addiction at a significantly higher rate than those who don’t display them.

Risk factors for addiction

Family history

People with close relatives who struggle with drug or alcohol abuse may be at increased risk. Genetics is believed to account for 40%-60% of the risk associated with developing a substance use disorder.

Addiction works by altering the neural pathways in our brains. Humans are wired to seek out the things that release feel-good chemicals like dopamine in our brains. The abuse of substances is a way to bypass the normal routes for releasing these types of chemicals in the brain. The level of addiction that someone experiences after they bypass these routes can differ from person to person. However, family members likely have similar predispositions to addiction because a lot of the biological makeup of the brain is genetic.

Community environment

People who are surrounded by a community that is highly accepting of substance abuse may be at risk. If people in your social circle or neighborhood have easy access to drugs and alcohol, you may be more likely to engage in these behaviors as well.

Some characteristics of communities that are at a high risk of addiction include:

  • High unemployment rate
  • Inadequate housing
  • High prevalence of crime
  • High prevalence of illegal drug use

Mental health conditions

There is a strong connection between mental health issues and risk of addiction. People suffering from anxiety, depression, PTSD, or other mental health disorders are often more likely to turn to drugs or alcohol as a way of self-medicating their symptoms. Similarly, people struggling with substance use disorder are also more likely to develop mental health conditions.

When a person struggles with substance use disorder and another mental health condition simultaneously, it’s referred to as a dual diagnosis.

Drug of choice

Since some substances are more addictive than others, a person’s drug of choice can be a risk factor for addiction. Drugs like cocaine, heroin, and meth tend to be more addictive than things like marijuana or alcohol.

Drugs that trigger harsh withdrawal symptoms are typically more physically addictive. The use of these kinds of substances not only induces good feelings but also helps the user avoid the bad feelings of withdrawal.

Early use

Research has shown that people who start using drugs or alcohol at a young age are at risk of addiction. Early use is often associated with riskier patterns of substance abuse and more frequent episodes of problematic use.

The use of drugs, while a person’s brain is still developing, can lead to changes in neural pathways that may make them more susceptible to substance use disorders. Additionally, people who begin using drugs or alcohol at a young age and continue into adulthood are also likely to struggle with addiction.


Ultimately, risk factors for addiction can vary depending on the individual and their unique circumstances. But it is important to be aware of these risk factors so that you can take steps to protect yourself from abuse or misuse of substances.

Addiction treatment at Isaiah House

One thing that’s important to know is that risk factors are not destiny. At Isaiah House, we’ve helped thousands of men and women break free from the grip of addiction. We use a holistic approach that addresses the spiritual, physical, mental, financial, legal, and educational aspects of our clients’ lives.

If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, recovery is possible. Reach out to us today! We want to walk with you through every step of your recovery journey.

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