Addiction is an issue that is rampant all over the world, not just here in the U.S. Out of the 7.7 billion people around the world, statistics show that there are about 240 million people worldwide who struggle with addiction. A study done in 2015 by Australian researchers showed that 240 million people struggle with addiction and 15 million of those individuals use injection drugs (heroin, meth, cocaine, etc.). Another alarming fact is that more than 1 billion people worldwide smoke cigarettes, another dangerous habit. The issue of addiction is one that grows every year, but are we able to nail down who exactly is vulnerable to addictive habits in an effort to fight this epidemic? In today’s article, we’re going to be discussing some of the demographics that are particularly vulnerable to addiction and discuss how we can help these individuals.

Who is Affected by Addiction?

Though addiction is an epidemic that affects all walks of life, there are demographics and individuals who are more vulnerable to it than others. We’re going to discuss some of the most notable groups of people that often struggle with this disorder and answer the questions of whether or not it is possible to find patterns of abuse in certain populations.

Demographic #1: People With Addiction Family History

For individuals who have had family members struggle with addiction, they are particularly vulnerable to dependency. If you didn’t already know this, addiction can actually be a genetic disease. Though a person may not develop an addiction right after birth, they are predisposed to be more vulnerable to developing addictive tendencies later in life. Addiction is actually due to 50% genetic predisposition and 50% poor coping skills. If a person’s parent or even grandparent struggled some form of substance abuse, they’re that much more vulnerable to developing an addiction in their lives than someone without addiction in their family history. To be more precise, people who have parents that have struggled with addiction at 8x’s more likely to develop an addiction than children who did not have parents that struggled with addiction. There’s no doubt that people who have had family members struggle with addiction may be prone to developing an addiction later in life as well.

Demographic #2: Men

Believe it or not, men are actually far more likely to develop an addiction when compared to women. Not to say women are not a vulnerable demographic, but men statistically have a higher chance of being addicts than women. According to a study done by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, there are far more men in rehab centers and rehab programs than women. Why is this? Well, it could be due to the fact that men are conditioned to uphold an image of confidence, strength, and self-sufficiency. The second that image is called into question is the moment they may start to feel insecure. This could be a very big reason why there are far more male addicts than females. If a man starts to doubt his own masculinity, he will try to cope in one way or another. Unfortunately, as statistics show, they may resort to substance abuse as a means of coping.

Demographic #3: Students (High School & College)

Young developing teens/adults are highly impressionable. High school students and college students are in a stage of life where their brains and bodies are still developing. This is a time in their lives where they want to explore themselves and experience new things. Unfortunately, sometimes this means experimenting with substances. High school and college students alike are beginning a stage in their lives of independence which may cause them to want to do things against what they’re brought up to think. This often means going to parties to drink or do drugs. Due to peer pressure and the pressure to fit in, these demographics have become well-known for experimenting with substances. If a student is being pushed to use a substance to be “cool”, they’ll have a strong desire to fit in and be accepted, making substance abuse highly likely. This is not the case with all high school/college students, but this demographic is particularly vulnerable to developing early addiction.

Demographic #4: People With Mental Illnesses

People all over the world struggle with mental illness. Depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, and dementia, ADD, ADHD, and PTSD are all just a few examples of mental health issues. Most of these types of disorders can be treated through medication or therapy. However, if these illnesses are left untreated, individuals suffering from them will try to find other means of coping. For people who do not seek proper treatment or are unable to find it may resort to substance abuse as a quick and easy fix. People with some of these disorders often use alcohol, marijuana, or other illicit substances as a means of coping. Many people who struggle with depression, anxiety, or PTSD struggle with alcohol abuse; they use the substance as a way to numb themselves and escape from the current reality they’re facing. Even those who receive treatment may develop an addiction. For people who struggle with ADHD, ADD, PTSD, or depression/anxiety, they may be prescribed medications to deal with their illnesses, but these medications can also become addictive.

These 4 demographics are some of the most notable when discussing vulnerable populations to addiction. However, it should be noted that addiction can affect anyone, regardless of race, age, socioeconomic status, gender, etc. There is no denying there is a strong correlation between these demographics and addictions. Hopefully, we can use this information for future research on substance abuse and who is vulnerable to developing a dependency. At the end of the day, it’s up to us to provide the proper education to these vulnerable demographics, and anyone for that matter, to ensure that substance abuse does not carry on down through generations to come. Addiction can and will be beaten.

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