Risk Factors for Addiction

To make sense of the reasons as to why some people become addicted to certain objects, it may help to understand the risk factors that could lead to addiction. Seeking the momentary euphoric pleasure that accompanies use is not the only reason people continue to use

Rewards gained from the object of addiction are offered through other means, such as social, psychological, or biological. These rewards are what causes the individual to continue the substance or behavior, because they make harmful objects of addiction seem appealing to users. They fulfill a certain need to them, and often that need is unknown to the individual.

An important part of recovery is for the individual to learn which need the substance or behavior fulfills, and finding other, safer ways of fulfilling it. There are certain factors that may play a role in the addiction and the recovery process, these include the following:

  • Genes: Some studies suggest that the risk for addiction is about 50% genetically based. Although it is not highly researched, the evidence found so far is enough to consider the risk. Researchers have proposed that some people may have genes that predispose them to addiction, however not to a specific type of addiction. Meaning, this cluster of genes predispose individuals to any type of addiction.
  • Environment: Possibly the most common risk factor, an individual’s environment may play a part in leading to addiction. For example, people abused as children, experienced trauma, or faced challenges in their lifetime may be more prone to addiction than those who weren’t. That is not to say that everyone who was exposed to a difficult environment will end up becoming an addict.
  • Youth: People are particularly vulnerable to addiction during their youth (adolescence to early adulthood), due to hormonal changes and a brain incomplete in its development. These factors put together increase pleasure-seeking and risk-taking behaviors.
  • Mental illness: Experts in the field strongly believe that people with mental illness are especially vulnerable to addiction. It is believed that they both overlap due to the fact that people with anxiety, depression, or a personality disorder may seek to find ways to relieve their mental suffering. This relief is often found through the object of addiction.
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