The Road To Addiction

Articles, Australia, International, Understanding Addiction

Addiction does not discriminate due to race, education or finances. However, there are some risk factors that increase one’s risk of developing an addiction problem.

Family history and heredity play a major role in the development of addiction. Family history is not only due to heredity, but also plays into the environment, where substance abuse becomes a learned behavior. Children often imitate the behaviors of their parents, and drug abuse is no different. Also, if parents are abusing substances, they either have looser attitudes toward drug use or they have no authority in the eyes of their children to tell their children they cannot use drugs themselves. Furthermore, growing up in this type of environment can cause family stress as well as other issues leading the person to become fixated on a substance much like their family member. However, there are those who are genetically predisposed to addiction, but are able to overcome it.

Mental health disorders, such as depression, can increase one’s risk of becoming addicted to a substance as well. Someone who is depressed may begin using a drug to cope with feelings he is experiencing due to many different types of circumstances. Then, before the person knows it, the substance begins to decrease the mental health issues he has been experiencing for at least a short period of time, but shortly after the drug effects wear off, he is needing the drug again to decrease the pain or anxiety he is feeling. Drinking alcohol because you are stressed can increase your risk of addiction because of the vicious cycle associated with using alcohol to self medicate for a mental health disorder. It is a good idea to seek professional help if you are living with a mental illness in order to decrease your chances of becoming addicted to drugs or alcohol and to deal with the mental health issue itself also.

Abuse or other traumatic experiences are also linked to addiction. Abuse could be physical or sexual, and traumatic realities could include loss of a loved one, witnessing violence, an unexpected medical diagnosis, deployment and many others, which lead someone to down the path toward addiction. If one has struggled with events like the ones listed above, he could experience anxiety, cause the brain to be hypervigilant and could more or less to push the brain into a state of survival mode, causing the person to yearn for something to help him reduce the stress to forget about past events. Trauma also often replays over and over again in the the person’s brain, like it is stuck on repeat, making it more likely the person will turn to substance abuse to alleviate these thoughts and feelings he is constantly experiencing. Events like these can also leave a tremendous wound in a person’s life and lead them to drink away the pain associated with these feelings. Others also believe they should drink because this life of pain and trouble is the one they have been given and cannot escape. These people believe they are unworthy and flawed, so they must continue to act this way. However, it is important to deal with the negative emotions associated with trauma in order to reduce the chances of developing an addiction problem linked to the trauma.

Research shows the longer one misuses substances the more likely he will become addicted to a substance. Therefore, the earlier the age of onset, the more likely the person will become addicted to a substance. He will also have a greater chance at being addicted to the substance faster than someone who waits longer in life to become dependent on a substance.  Research also states the earlier one begins drinking the poorer the outcome for recovery, both for seeking help for an addiction and experiencing more relapses due to poorer treatment outcomes for addiction recovery. Avoiding underage drinking can also decrease the risk of addiction and be more beneficial to future recovery outcomes also.

 

The type of drug one uses also plays into the development of addiction. Substances that are smoked or injected cause one to be at higher risk of addiction because those drugs are enhanced in absorption into the body. Although they are absorbed quickly, the effects also leave the body at a quicker pace, leaving the person wanting more of the substance in less amount of time. If a drug is taken in these ways, they are craved much more often, making them a dangerous risk for developing an addiction.

Becoming dependent on a substance makes addiction much more likely as well. The higher the tolerance for a substance the more an individual will need to use the substance. Consequently, if a person is needing more of a drug to reach the same level of excitability, the more likely the individual will be hooked. Being dependent on a substance makes the liability of developing an addiction increase.

These risk factors are not a guarantee that a person will develop into an addict of a substance, but they do increase that risk. So when these risk factors are present, refraining from using substances is the best option to not growing addicted to a substance.

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Anne -

Anne Lazarakis joined the DARA Rehab team from Sydney, Australia. She writes about addiction and mental health on a global, local and community level. She also relays personal accounts of substance abuse and recovery through the stories of our clients, their families and our own team members.

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