Why Some People are More Prone to Addiction than Others
Addiction is a complex disorder and like many other mental and physical disorders, some people are more prone to it than others. An individual feature cannot be blamed as the sole cause of addiction. Instead, a number of factors play a part in paving out the path that leads to addiction.
In most cases, people are greatly affected by their individual, biological, social, environmental and economic situations. These factors play a part in determining how prone to addiction a person might be.
Until the recent past, a number of researchers believed that there are specific genes that make a person more susceptible to substance abuse disorders. The so-called “addiction gene” was cited as the leading cause of addiction for a long time. It made sense because research had shown that the children of addicted parents were more likely to become dependant on drugs as compared to the children whose parents were never dependent. But even after studying the matter for years, scientists have yet to back up claims of an addiction gene with hard scientific evidence.
Furthermore, some scientists argue that it is not the addiction gene or any sort of genetic link at all that leads such children to addiction, but more likely a result of the environment in which they are raised. People struggling with addiction often find it difficult to take care of themselves, let alone a family. For this reason, children in addiction afflicted households are usually victims of neglect, emotional and/or physical abuse, and even violence. These kinds of environments are less than ideal for children to grow up in, and in most cases result in lifelong pain and suffering. Most people who become addicts turn to illicit substances as a means of escaping emotional pain, physical pain, or coping with mental illness and unprocessed childhood trauma. If a child is raised in an environment where one or more members of the household were neglectful or abusive under the influence of harmful substances, they are more likely to face the kinds of issues that drive people to use these substances. To add on to this, children living under the care of addicts are exposed to drugs at an early age. This allows them easier access to these drugs that a child living in a drug-free household would not have.
Sure, the conflicting findings make it difficult to pinpoint a single reason behind addiction but it introduces us to a web of risk factors that together play a major part in leading an individual towards substance abuse. Let’s have a look at some of the factors that may be the reason behind why some people are more prone to addiction than others.
One school of thoughts of scientists still believes that the individual personality of a person has a lot to do with their chances of becoming drug dependent. Although the addiction gene is yet to be discovered, some scientists believe that factors other than genetics are responsible in making the individual personality the reason behind drug abuse. Some aspects that build a personality that tends to be attracted towards substance abuse include things like trauma, psychological pain, and psychical pain.
Trauma, especially childhood trauma, is the biggest reason why some people are more prone to addiction. Studies show that children who experience more than 4 traumas by the age of 16 are 4000 times more prone to falling in the habit of drug abuse than a child who experiences none.
It is important to realize that trauma can take a lot of forms. It can be sexual, physical, mental or emotional. Irrespective of the type of trauma, it can affect the brain chemistry of children, leaving a person more vulnerable to substance abuse. The probability of experiencing trauma largely depends on social factors like economic status, race, gender, location etc.
Physical and psychological pain can have major side effects on the personality. It can lead to disorders like depression, insomnia, anxiety, bulimia, and feelings of loneliness and isolation. This can greatly increase the risk of developing substance abuse.
Exposure to Drugs
Early exposure to alcohol and drugs can easily lead to addiction in later life. This might be the very reason why children of most substance abusers often become dependent on drugs themselves. On the other hand, lack of parental monitoring and the company of peers that partake in drug use also play a major role in developing addiction issues.
The reason behind the connection between an early exposure to drugs and substance abuse is that in the early age (including the teenage period), the brain is still developing. The use of illicit drugs and alcohol in this early era of life can have repercussions that usually last a lifetime.
According to research done at the National Institute of Drug and Alcohol Abuse, people who have their first drink before reaching the age of 15 are more likely to become alcoholics when they grow up. Almost 40% of them develop a substance abuse problem.
Although scientists are yet to find the gene that contributes in making a person prone to addictions, they have been successful in identifying genes that dictate how a body will react to drugs, or how quickly a person will develop a dependency. Other genes play an important part in determining how strongly a body will react to withdrawal.
It is important to realize that just because your family has a history of alcoholism or drug abuse, it does not mean you will also develop it. It simply mean that you are at a greater risk for developing an addiction, but keep in mind that no one is predestined to struggle with it. So, you are good as long as you maintain a healthy lifestyle and keep yourself from developing addictive behaviors.
According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, gender significantly affects the addictive behavior of individuals. Furthermore, noteworthy differences are found in the addiction rates between male and female population. Women usually start off with substances in lower doses but increase it at a much faster rate than men. This causes their use to quickly escalate to an addiction, putting them at a higher risk of relapse as well.
Another study at UCLA indicates that women are more vulnerable to drug abuse because they are generally more prone to psychological stress and pain. Furthermore, female hormones and the menstrual cycle also put women at a higher risk.
It is important to keep two things in mind at all times. First, even if you have high-risk factors, it does not necessarily mean that you will get addicted to alcohol or drugs. Second, regardless of what drives you to addiction, you can always find you way back to a clean lifestyle.
It is hard to overcome an addiction, but it is definitely not impossible. A medical facility like Arizona Addiction Recovery Center can help you find the proper treatment and care that you need to get back towards a healthy, fulfilled life. Just know that you are not alone in this fight and there is nothing to be ashamed of.
Anyone can develop an addiction, what makes or breaks your life is whether you decide to fight it or not. Let’s take a stand together and start your journey today. Call for information on our services and programs.