If there is one thing that we all can learn from addiction, it has to be discrimination. Addiction is one such disease that puts less focus on race, background, culture, religion, and any other aspect. It is a brain disorder that impacts everyone equally. Even age is not a parameter that can stop addiction from spreading. This can be distinguished from the stats clearly showing that more young people and teenagers are now constantly engaged in practices revolving around substance abuse. All demographics of society suffer equal wrath of addiction.
It’s a chronic disease that is treatable, but the patient suffers from a high risk of relapsing even after attaining long-term sobriety. Although how addiction evolves in an individual is still a complex process to understand and decode. However, it is still possible to trace the patterns of how addiction is spreading in individuals, and then marking those common links that possibly connects the dots and increase the chances of a particular group of people to develop an addiction.
Demographics More Vulnerable to Addiction
Certain factors contribute to the way addiction develops in individuals. Although these factors are not a sure shot in discovering the true basis of how addiction occurs, this can give a possible cause or which groups are more prone to fall into addiction.
It has long been studied and suggested that men are more likely to develop a drug or alcohol dependence. Further, it has also been revealed that men have more dominance in the discussions about how addiction should be treated. But, the trends are changing at a fast rate now. Earlier, it was the men who were more likely to use illegal drugs when compared to women. However, as young women work towards closing the gap between males and females, women are now more frequently abusing illicit drugs.
Around 20 percent of women who seek addiction treatment do so because of alcoholism, however, only 10 percent of men suffering from alcohol addiction seek treatment. Also, women are more likely to choose inpatient treatment because of their responsibilities towards their children.
During recovery, a woman’s menstrual cycle can increase the frequency of cravings for the drugs due to hormones. They may get strong urges during the month which can cause them to relapse. Men, on the other hand, do not have a menstrual cycles and hence are at less risk.
Having a family member who has suffered or is suffering from addiction increases the chances of addiction in the succeeding members by 20 percent. They are more vulnerable to drug dependence and this has stamped on the possibility that substance abuse disorder might be a genetic disease.
However, a person, right after birth cannot be suffering from addiction but over time, they are more prone to developing addictive traits towards drugs and alcohol. Substance abuse disorder is actually viewed as a disease that’s made of 50 percent coping skills and the other 50 due to the genetic predisposition. If their parents or grandparents have a history of substance abuse, they are more vulnerable to having addictive tendencies later in life.
This is not an established fact though, but various studies and research have concluded family history of drug abuse to play an important role in developing an addiction. Also, this doesn’t mean that people whose family members don’t use cannot develop a substance abuse disorder at all. It’s just that people who have seen substance abuse up close in their families are more likely to develop this disease.
High School and College Students
The earlier perception that drug and alcohol abuse can only happen in adults is slowly fading away. Why you may ask? Because since the past few years, there has been a rapid increase in the number of students consuming drugs or binge drinking alcohol. And since high school and college students have brains that are still in the developing phase, they can adapt addictive tendencies quite rapidly.
Age is what drives these teenagers to test and try the drugs which they conveniently say is a one-time thing. However, what they don’t realize is that these one times pile up so quickly, that before they could realize, they are already stuck in addiction. Since the students experience the initial stage of independence, they want to try things out which are against what they have been told from the beginning. This includes going to parties to drink, smoke, and consume any illicit substance.
Peer pressure and the dire need to fit in are also some major reasons why teens start experimenting with substances at first. The desperate need to be cool pushes these teenagers to an extent where they choose the path of using drugs or alcohol. Again, this doesn’t apply to each and every student, but this demographic is more likely to develop early substance abuse disorders.
People with an underlying mental illness have more risk of consuming drugs. Various mental health conditions such as depression, schizophrenia, anxiety, paranoia, ADHD, dementia, post-traumatic stress disorder, ADD, and many more can encourage a person to accept alcohol or drugs as a coping mechanism to escape from the harsh realities of life.
Mentally ill patients also use substances to self-medicate, thinking temporary calmness and relaxation can alleviate their symptoms even if it is for a short period. Most of the psychological issues are treatable through medication and therapy … yet, people choose their own way to medicate. This can be related to the stigma around mental illnesses and how such patients are perceived by society. In order to not be called a psycho, patients choose to self-medicate and help themselves.
Drugs most commonly used by mentally ill patients include alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, opiates such as painkillers, and even meth. Long-term use of such drugs can soon turn into a dependence that can transform into addiction. And once a patient with an underlying mental health condition develops substance abuse disorder, the situation becomes more concerning. This condition is known as a co-occurring disorder, the diagnosis, and treatment for which is still complex.
These are the most probable demographics which have a significant impact on how addiction can affect an individual. However, irrespective of these demographics and other factors, it should also be noted that substance abuse disorder can engulf anyone even those who do or do not fall in such groups. Also, there is no denying the fact that there is a strong correlation between these demographics and addiction. To have more accurate and detailed information on how exactly addiction relates to these factors, we will have to wait for more conclusive evidence.
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