While addiction may be genetically inherited by some of us, many others living with addiction can’t determine familial predisposition to be the cause for us. We might be the only ones in our families struggling with addiction. When genetic traits for addiction are not involved, what are some other risk factors for addiction?
An extremely common risk factor for addiction is mental illness. When we’re struggling with depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder and other mental health issues, we can be that much more likely to turn to drugs and alcohol for relief from our mental and emotional pain. Many of us can feel totally consumed by our mental illnesses. We can feel like our minds are torturing us and causing us intense pain. We can think that drugs and alcohol are the only, or the best, means of relieving this pain. We might be opposed to medication. We might be desperate to escape our racing thoughts and painful emotions. We might use drugs and alcohol to cope with other effects of our mental health issues, such as insomnia, fatigue, or eating disorders. For example, some people become dependent on alcohol to help them get to sleep, cocaine to give them the energy they need to get through the work day, or marijuana to increase their appetite if they struggle with anorexia. When we are living with untreated depression and other mental illnesses, we often aren’t thinking clearly and making the best choices for ourselves. Our judgment can be impaired. We can be easily tempted by the escapism and pain relief of drugs and alcohol. We might not be ready to do the hard mental and emotional work of healing from our mental health issues, so addiction becomes our go-to recourse.
Another risk factor can be our environment, and this can include our friendships, our work, school and recreational communities, and our neighborhoods. For many of us, the circles we’re in are filled with drug use. Drugs and alcohol are rampant. They are so common that they’ve become normalized. We grow up thinking that using drugs and alcohol are normal, acceptable behaviors because we’re so used to it. For some of us, it’s all we know. It’s what’s familiar. We grew up in it, surrounded by it, and we can’t help but be impacted by it. Seeing people we admire and look up to using drugs and alcohol can persuade us to experiment with them too. Peer pressure is a real thing, for adults as well as children. We don’t function in isolation and we’re greatly influenced by our environments.
Understanding addiction means exploring some of the factors that put us at risk for addiction. When we learn more about these risk factors, we can take preventive measures to help ourselves and others rise above addiction.
Riverside Recovery is here to help you get your life back and return to yourself. Call (800) 871-5440 today.