What Are the Key Risk Factors for Drug Addiction

Updated on November 17, 2022
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Drug addiction or substance abuse disorder is more prevalent than ever. It is a condition that entails the lack of control when using a particular drug or substance, such as alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, opioids, etc.

Drug addiction can start as a little experimental or recreational use, but soon you need more of the substance or drug. The risk of addiction will depend on the drug and the user. The following are some of the critical factors for drug addiction: 


Environmental factors are a significant risk factor for drug addiction. A lack of parental supervision in children, particularly teenagers, can contribute to drug addictions.

The same goes for children who are ignored by their parents and will turn to drugs to fill that void. Peer pressure is another environmental factor that can lead to drug use.

If there is someone in your social group who uses drugs, you significantly increase your chance of being a drug user. If you are trying to stop using drugs, you must change your environment, which is why people go to rehab.

You can learn more about what goes on in a drug rehab center in California on this site. They often have more programs than substance abuse programs.


Genetics is the most substantial risk factor for substance abuse disorder. Some experts say it may account for 40 to 60 percent of drug addiction.

The chemical reactions in an addicted drug user’s brain are entirely different from the reactions of someone without a substance abuse disorder. Moreover, heredity increases your risk of becoming a drug addict, which is why you will often find multiple family members addicted to drugs.

Genetic differences can influence many aspects of drug use, such as how pleasurable a drug is, how intense the cravings are and how potent the withdrawal symptoms can be. 

Mental Health Disorders

Many mental health disorders put you at a greater risk of substance abuse. People diagnosed with mental health disorders like depression, anxiety, PTSD, and even schizophrenia are at a higher risk of becoming drug addicts than those without such disorders.

Overcoming addiction for such people will also have to include treatment to heal from their mental health disorders. The reason people with mental health disorders get addicted to drugs is because they try to solve their problems with the substance. By treating the condition, the addiction will automatically disappear. 

Drug Of Choice

The drug someone uses significantly impacts the strength of their addiction. Most addictions develop over months or years. Alcohol and marijuana are drugs whose addictions are not as strong as other drugs, and the same goes for their withdrawal effects and symptoms.

Drugs like cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamines lead to stronger addiction. Their withdrawal symptoms are also excruciating. The cases of drug overdoses are also more common with drugs like cocaine and heroin than milder drugs.

Addiction based on the drug of choice is closely tied to the method of use. Drugs that are ingested directly into the bloodstream tend to be more addictive. 


Traumatic childhood experiences significantly increase your susceptibility to addiction. The greater the stress of childhood experiences, the higher the risk of becoming a drug addict.

The trauma could be physical, sexual, or emotional. Substance abuse could involve cigarettes, alcohol, fast food, and harder drugs.

Addiction resulting from childhood trauma is also profoundly connected to mental health disorders which contribute to addiction in a nasty negative feedback loop. Post-traumatic stress disorder in later life also contributes to substance abuse and addiction. 

There are many factors influencing substance abuse and addiction. Environment, genetics, drug of choice, trauma, and mental health disorders are just a few. The more the risk factors you have, the greater the chances of addiction.

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The Editorial Team at Healthcare Business Today is made up of skilled healthcare writers and experts, led by our managing editor, Daniel Casciato, who has over 25 years of experience in healthcare writing. Since 1998, we have produced compelling and informative content for numerous publications, establishing ourselves as a trusted resource for health and wellness information. We offer readers access to fresh health, medicine, science, and technology developments and the latest in patient news, emphasizing how these developments affect our lives.