There are many risk factors that contribute to a person’s relationship with drugs and alcohol. Although encountering these risk factors does not guarantee that there will be substance abuse disorders in someone’s future, these risk factors need to be addressed to reduce the likelihood of negative outcomes.
1. Mental Health
All too often, the presence of mental health conditions can lead to addiction and the need for substance abuse treatment to get on the path to recovery. Sometimes a mental heatlh condition can lead to substanace abuse, and other times substance abuse leads to mental health disorders. The answer isn’t always clear when it comes to dual diagnoses, but the link between the two is undeniable and a clear risk factor that cannot be ignored.
2. Famliy History
Substance abuse is more prevalent amongst those who have a family history of addiction. This may not necessarily be a genetic trait. It could be that the behavior is learned or that the patterns in someone’s family life haven’t been broken or learned from. It’s rarely clear at what point a person’s substance use becomes addiction. It’s important that adults talk to the young people in their family about substance abuse within the family just as they would talk about heart disease, glaucoma, or hypertension.
3. Impulse Control Problems
In people who have behavioral problems or struggle with impulse control, drugs and alcohol can hold a lot of sway. People who take a lot of risks or routinely engage in risky behavior have a higher risk of substance abuse. Many times the label of “addictive personality” is used to describe someone who struggles with behavioral issues and impulse control.
4. Exposure to Trauma
People who have been exposed to trauma are also at a higher risk of developing a substance abuse problem. Trauma can come in many different forms and may not always be apparent. When children witness traumatic events like death, abuse, or violence they may turn to drugs or alcohol as a coping mechanism. Likewise experiencing parental abandnment or internalizing a life event in a harmful way can also lead to substance abuse later on in life. It’s important for parents to be aware of trauma and get help for their children, and adults who encounter trauma should also do the same.
5. Environmental Factors
Environmental factors can play a big role in subtance abuse. When drugs are easy to get your hands on, it’s a lot easier to use them. When peers and family members are engaging in substance use, it doesn’t seem out of place. Even frequent exposure to popular culture and media that encourages substance use can contribute to an increased risk.
There are a lot of risk factors that will change as people move through different life stages. This is because every stage of life comes with its own stressors and pressures. A person’s vulnerability and circumstances can change, and no matter how abruptly or subtly the shifts occur, people need to be aware to better avoid addiction.