Substance abuse is America’s number one health problem, and it can affect the entire family if left unchecked. In fact, there are predefined factors involving an individual’s family history that may increase their risk for substance abuse. This article will break down the top four things in your family history that may put you or your loved ones at risk for substance abuse:
A Family History of Drug Abuse and Dependence
It is a well-known fact that the children of someone who has abused drugs or alcohol are more likely to abuse drugs or alcohol as well, but did you know that they were eight times more likely?
In a recent study, 61 people who had no addiction were compared to 231 people who were medically diagnosed with drug or alcohol addiction. The examiners then took a look at first-degree relatives (siblings, parents or children) of those people to find that the occurrence of addiction was eight times more likely in those born into a family with a history of substance abuse.
Repeatedly abusing drugs causes a response in our brain as well as our genes. Unfortunately, these genes can be passed down to innocent children, but the good part is that your genes are not your destiny. Good coping skills can make all the difference, and many people who come from addicted families have managed to overcome this fate to lead healthy, happy lives.
Childhood Physical or Sexual Abuse
According to various studies and statistics, childhood physical and/or sexual abuse appears to be a significant risk factor for substance abuse. One study conducted in 2002 showed that there was an extremely high frequency of physical and sexual abuse among both women and men admitted for detoxification in the urban inpatient facility they studied. In fact, some 75 percent of the admitted patients experienced some form of physical and/or sexual abuse as a child.
Unstable Family Environment
Numerous studies conducted regarding family structure have found that children who are raised with both biological parents in their household are much less likely to use or abuse substances. However, in this case, family structure alone does not seem to tell the entire story.
In one study that took a sampling of the entire country of Greece (Madianos et al. 1995), father absence or the death of one or more parents was associated with substance abuse among the youth. On the other hand, deteriorating family environments were noted to have a greater impact of drug initiation among Hispanic/Latino immigrants than those who were born in the United States.
These hints suggest that family structure along with characteristics of these families have an effect on whether or not individuals will abuse alcohol and/or drugs.
Emotional abuse is often mysterious and elusive. So much so that those being abused often can’t even recognize it. One thing that’s for certain about emotional abuse is that those who grow up in a household with emotional abuse are much more likely to abuse substances.
If you know someone who is struggling with substance abuse, the time to take action is now. The longer you wait, the worse off they will be. If the person who needs help is you, the only way to end the vicious cycle of abuse is to get help immediately. For many, the only way out is jail or death, but doesn’t have to be you, you can make a change in your life by taking the first step right now.