Addiction Science – What is the Biggest Factor of Drug Abuse?

Written by Chloe Nicosia

What is the Biggest Factor of Drug Abuse?

Addiction does not discriminate based on age, gender or religion – it can affect anyone. The widespread abuse of drugs and alcohol in America affects every group of people. In 2014, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reported that as many as 21.5 million people in the United States had some form of substance use disorder (SUD) in that year. Of that group, 7.1 million people over the age of 12 reported having a drug abuse problem while 2.6 million people had both a drug and alcohol abuse problem. The main factor of drug abuse and all of the known causes that can lead to SUD will be discussed in this article.

Risk Factors for Drug Use

While each person may be different when it comes to substance abuse, many commonly shared factors influence drug abuse that is believed to be behind the majority of substance abuse in adults and teens. It is important to understand that drug abuse and addiction is not just a result of bad choices, but rather a mental disorder that should be treated professionally. The following looks at the risk factors for drug use.

Family History

The biggest factor of drug abuse is believed to a genetic disposition to addiction. In some families, there may be several people who suffer from various forms of addiction. Being a member of such a family greatly increases the chances of being an addict too. If your mom, dad or blood relative has problems with alcohol or drugs, then you are much more likely to develop the same problems once exposed to the substances.

Males

As a male, the chances of becoming an addict are higher than in females. Even though there is a greater risk of addiction in men, women tend to develop their addiction at a faster rate than men.

Peer Pressure

In the case of teens, peer pressure is a big factor of drug abuse. The need for children to fit in and be accepted among their peers can often drive them to try and do things they normally wouldn’t, such as try drugs at a party to impress their friends.

Taking Addictive Drugs

The more physically addictive the drug is, the more likely that a person will develop an addiction to it. Drugs such as opioids (heroin or prescription pain relievers), cocaine and meth are a few of the highly addictive drugs that are frequently abuse.

Family Involvement

When a child lacks family involvement in their lives, or they lack sufficient parental supervision, the risk of drug abuse increases. As a child, a strong bond with siblings or parents can help to reduce the risk of addiction.

Co-Occurring Mental Disorders

A vast number of drug-addicted individuals also suffer from other co-occurring mental disorders. If you suffer from mental illnesses such as post-traumatic stress disorder, an anxiety disorder or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder among others, then there is a high risk of drug addiction. This is due to people trying to self-medicate their symptoms through the use of drugs. For example, a person suffering from a social anxiety disorder might use alcohol or another drug to feel more comfortable at social events.

Depression, anxiety, and loneliness

A person suffering from anxiety, loneliness or depression may turn to drugs and alcohol as a way for them to cope with the overwhelming feelings they have. Even if the feelings are only temporary, the drug use can quickly become a habit and later turn into an addiction.

The many factors that influence drug abuse do not mean that addiction is inevitable, but rather more likely. The biggest factor of drug abuse may be different in two cases of addiction, but in the end, both people can be helped to overcome their addiction through rehab centers.

Sources:

https://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/NSDUH-FRR1-2014/NSDUH-FRR1-2014.pdf

https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/preventing-drug-abuse-among-children-adolescents/chapter-1-risk-factors-protective-factors