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WHAT ARE THE RISK FACTORS THAT CAN LEAD TO ADDICTION?
Several risk factors influence a person’s chance of taking drugs and the possibility of abuse and/or addiction. Let’s take a look at three of them.
- The genes that make up an individual, coupled with outside influences, point to a large part of their inclination towards drug use; a person’s sex and nationality also factor in. It is believed that genetic considerations account for more than 50% of a person’s susceptibility to abuse and addiction.
- “Environment” is an all-encompassing word and includes social position with regard to others based on income, education and occupation. It also includes a person’s basic quality of life, stress and parental involvement.
- Addiction vulnerability in young people is a huge factor, as the brain is still forming and developing – in particular the vital areas of judgment, self-control and decision making abilities. Young people, often motivated by peer pressure will experiment with drugs, which often leads to abuse and/or addiction.
The manner in which a drug enters into the user’s system plays a role in determining the risk of addiction. Intravenous (IV) administration, directly injecting the drug into the veins, has the highest risk of addiction, with the drug affecting the brain within seconds. The same is true for smoking a drug. These two methods produce almost immediate effect. The “high” feeling from the drug, however, often does not last long and tends to set off the insatiable craving for more and more – hallmarks of the mentality of an addict.
The age when someone begins to use drugs is certainly a factor, as noted above. The brain is forming and developing in young people – particularly the prefrontal cortex with its vital decision-making abilities. Of course, someone can become addicted to drugs at any age, however adolescents are particularly at risk due in part to the poor decisions they make and inability to weigh important consequences.