It’s possible for some people to take a drag on a cigarette and never want another smoke again. Other people take one hit of a drug and must have it in large quantities almost immediately. Addiction risk factors are now being researched by scientists to see how addictive minds can be helped. These factors include genetic, environmental and societal aspects of addiction. If you’re wondering about your risk for drug use, examine some details about these complex aspects to keep yourself aware of any addictive behaviors invading your life.
Addiction Is a Widespread Disease
You may have heard medical professionals referring to addiction as a disease. Addiction is unique because it’s a behavioral anomaly as opposed to a physical ailment or infection. Everyone in the world has the potential for addiction, making it one of the most common diseases across the globe. To understand the human mind and its connection to addiction, consider these traits that allow substance abuse to occur globally.
People around the world have one major thing in common: emotional ties. From happiness to sadness, every human has emotions that must be dealt with on a daily basis. If you have problems you can’t mentally deal with, you may use drugs to escape from your own mind. Escapism is a major reason many people want to use drugs, making almost any illicit substance a tool for addictive behaviors.
The prevalence of addiction also depends on drug proximity. Across the world, drugs are available in almost every town. From sniffing glue to serious cocaine addiction, people have access to substances if they really want them. Addiction risk factors rise when access is so easy that even school children know who the local dealer is. Substance abuse, emotional upheaval and easy access can combine in almost any individual to create practically immediate addiction.
The disease of addiction is perpetuated in part because people are making money off its success. Dealers want addiction to occur to create loyal customers at any cost. They’ll play on emotions and call in favors to get you to take certain substances. The drug trade is a lucrative one, so there’ll always be some type of addiction spreading across the nation because of dealers’ strong wills to make money and maintain their customer bases.
Not everyone has a strong support group to help them through tough times. Many people feel isolated and just seek escape. Coping with emotional problems is difficult, so addictive behaviors tend to flourish with drug availability. You might not be able to cope in a healthy manner by leaning on friends and family, so you turn to drugs as a way to make it through the day. Addiction continues to be a widespread disease as emotions and poor decisions take over the lives of numerous individuals.
Genetic Factors Contribute to Addiction
Your genes are the map to your mind and body. When you’re first conceived, a mixture of genes between your mother and father combine to create a unique individual. Researchers have always been fascinated with genetic factors affecting every part of life, from hair color to intelligence level. However, there’s growing evidence that some genes can determine if you’re more prone to addiction than your sibling or best friend. Examine these genetic factors that contribute to addiction and its prevalence within family trees.
Contrary to popular thought, there’s no complete gene that tells scientists definitively if you’ll be an addict or not. There’ll always be people who have different reactions to various drugs. Drinking alcohol might feel wonderful for you, whereas another person finds the taste and sensation unnerving. These preferences may guide some addictive behaviors based on the simple concept of rewarding yourself. Everyone wants to feel good at all times, and some people seek out those highs in the form of substance abuse.
Researchers know mutated or damaged genes can lead to addictive behaviors. If a child is born with a mutated gene, that person could grow up to have an addiction. However, the gene itself must be a specific type and life experiences must influence the addictive behavior for an actual drug problem to arise.
It’s also known parents can pass down alleles or traits to their children with addiction as an outcome during development. These alleles are why families tend to have alcoholism running through certain generations, for example. Tests can be conducted to find out if you or your family group has this allele. When a family understands their addiction risks, they can pinpoint warning signs easier and seek help faster than without the information.
Scientists create pedigrees or family trees for families with possible addictive behaviors. They’ll read over genetic markers and form a family tree to illustrate where genes could negatively affect certain family members. You and your family can use this information to guide decisions and teach your children about drug use and abuse. It’s important to note, however, that genes aren’t the only cause for addiction; it requires external influences to truly activate the addictive mind.
Societal Influences Play a Role
Although it’s incredibly subtle, society’s influences definitely play a role with addiction development. You could observe your surroundings for one day and notice dozens of subtle reminders that drug use is accepted and encouraged, for example. When an idea is pushed consistently within society, it often becomes a normal part of life, such as people smoking cigarettes in the 1950s. Be aware of societal influences affecting addiction to help you stay away from these pressures whenever possible.
Kids and teenagers often are vulnerable to societal pressures and give in to addiction and drug use. They’ll see the popular crowd participating in addictive behaviors, and want to be part of that social group at any cost. Teens become accepted when they show they’re cool enough to take the drug. Because decision-making skills are still developing even in high school, kids who take illicit substances might have addiction treatment in their futures.
Fitting in with the crowd also occurs in certain employment situations, such as within the music industry. If everyone is taking a specific drug to enhance their musical creativity, for example, you’re expected to follow suit. These pressures usually are very subtle, but worth your employment position if you don’t conform to the crowd.
There are unspoken rules at gatherings to drink alcohol or smoke. Celebrations call for champagne and cigars, for example. You don’t have to partake in this type of celebrating, but it’s expected. If you don’t act a certain way, people may look at you differently. Because everyone wants to be accepted, they’ll simply drink and smoke as directed by social influences.
Big business even wants you to seek addictive behaviors because it makes money. Advertising is almost everywhere now because of Internet connections. You’ll see marketing schemes for cigarettes, alcohol and other substances. Advertisers want you to think these substances are cool, so they’ll make the marketing slick and attractive to engage you. For example, electronic cigarettes are being packaged this way, so you should be aware of the influence business has on the masses before trying the newest substance on the market.
Addiction Is Impacted by Environment
You could have all of the genetic factors for addiction, but might never have any problems. Aside from genetic and societal addiction risk factors, there must also be environmental influences guiding your choices. If you have a genetic tendency toward addiction, some of these environmental influences could push you over the edge. A combination of factors is what drives addicts to seek certain substances and stick with them.
Your social group influences you greatly, from high school pals to corporate buddies. If friends say a drug is great, you might be more inclined to take the substance. You may have never thought of taking anything until a friend mentioned the concept. Friends who seek healthy pathways in life wouldn’t pressure you to take drugs, leaving you with a positive environment without addiction as a possibility.
There are some environmental factors you can’t change, making you more vulnerable toward addictive behaviors. You may have been abused either physically or mentally as a child. These traumas force you to look at the world in a different light, seeking reprieve in unusual ways. Drugs could be a coping mechanism to forget about pain over which you had no control.
Stress is a huge factor in addiction because everyone deals with it differently. You could have a stressful job or witnessed a violent crime, for instance. If you can’t deal with the stress of these situations, you might look for escape through drugs or alcohol. Not everyone reacts this way, but you must be aware that addictive behaviors are possible with extreme circumstances.
Some households are prime for addiction because one person is already an addict. If you live with a drug user, from smoking cigarettes to snorting cocaine, there’s a higher chance of you taking substances, too. You might try the substance at home and enjoy its escapism. Because your household accepts addictive behaviors, the substance abuse is considered normal. You could perceive addiction as normal for a long time before an outside environmental influence shows you otherwise. The environment is a strong factor when it comes to addiction, making it crucial to be aware of certain signs before substance abuse takes hold.
Addiction Treatment Programs Explore and Address These Risk Factors
If you become addicted to any substance, professional treatment usually is necessary to help you pull out of those negative habits. Addiction treatment is distinctly different for each person, so professionals must evaluate you through both medical and mental surveys. With your personal information, professionals devise a plan to deal with your addiction and associated risk factors.
Most addiction treatment and recovery programs begin with a detoxification period. Your body is under stress from the chemicals coursing through all systems. Medical professionals place you under strict monitoring to ensure you have a smooth transition into sobriety. If you develop any medical issues, you’ll have the best care to minimize side effects as substance toxins slowly metabolize out of your body.
You’ll receive counseling next to understand the psychological side to your dependence. Professionals dive deep into your background to see where core substance abuse tendencies begin. You might reveal a relative is an addict, for example. Home life, family history and everyday struggles are the information professionals need to form a recovery plan that works for you.
All of the detox and counseling sessions lead to you transitioning into the real world again. You may always have some addiction risks, so professionals work with you to find those triggers. If you can pinpoint what sets off your mind for drug use, such as grief over a lost loved one, you can learn coping mechanisms to avoid using again. You might want to visit a grief counselor and substance abuse support groups, for example. It’s critical to deal with all of your personal issues because they’re the heart of your substance problem. When you focus on yourself, societal and environmental addiction risk factors don’t affect you as much as previously.
Reputable recovery centers offer you plenty of resources to stay in touch and prevent relapse. You could visit the center to participate in periodic group sessions. Meet with recovering friends at a lunch gathering to discuss triumphs and possible temptations. Your risk factors will always be an issue, but you can face them head-on by filling your life with positive behaviors, from earning a higher degree to focusing on family. Keeping in contact with your recovery friends and professionals only shores up your resolve to stay sober.
When you feel addictive behaviors are out of control, contact the helpline at 877-929-6887. Addiction treatment may seem intimidating, but it’s your outlet for a healthy future and long lifespan. Some addiction risk factors you can control, while others are inherently part of your body. Allow professionals to work with you to find a smart balance between addiction and normal daily activities. You don’t have to let drugs take over your life. Take charge and reduce those risk factors today.