That risk increases with certain addictive substances. For example, with cigarettes, genetic factors determine:
- 75% of the likelihood of a person becoming a smoker
- 60% of the risk of dependence/addiction
- 54% of their ability to quit smoking
The Rest of the Story
But biology only partially explains the potential for addiction. Other causal/influential risk factors include:
- Environment: Common to most people in the neighborhood/community
- Lack of employment or economic opportunities/Poverty
- Availability of alcohol and/or illicit drugs
- Peer pressure
- Attitudes/Anti-Drug resources within the community
- Individual risk factors– Unique to the person
- Childhood exposure to substance abuse
- Child neglect/abuse
- Adverse life events – i.e. divorce, death, termination, etc.
- Academic problems
- Social isolation
- Mental illness—anxiety, depression, PTSD, bipolar disorder, etc.
- Suicidal ideation/behavior
- College-age risk factors– New risk factors faced in young adulthood:
- Separation anxiety
- Increased peer pressure
- More tolerant attitude towards drugs
- Easy availability of drugs
- Binge-drinking behaviors
- Lack of supervision
- Greater academic pressure
Initial Choices Play a Role
Here’s the thing – a genetic or environmental vulnerability DOES NOT make addiction a certainty. There are still personal choices that have to—or DON’T have to— be made before the inherent risk really matters.
For example, the person has to choose to experiment with drugs or alcohol. Furthermore, they then have to repeat that use regularly. Only then will vulnerabilities become be activated.
“…there isn’t just one “addiction gene”, but rather a panel of 5 to 11 genes associated with alcohol and drug abuse… if an individual is found to have a genetic predisposition across these 11 genes, is he or she predestined to be – or at least, at very high risk – of being an addict? STAY TUNED.”
~Dr. Akikur Mohammad, M.D.
What Does All of This Mean?
It means that for anyone who has any of the risk factors, experimentation with or use of intoxicants becomes an unwise gamble.
WHY someone becomes addicted is not quite as important as WHAT can be done for someone who is already addicted. Evidence-based treatment focuses on arresting the progress of the disease and repairing the damage done to the person, their life, and their family.
If you live in Southern California, Lasting Recovery outpatient drug rehab in San Diego can be your go-to resource to help you protect yourself against the disease of addiction.