Addiction: Who Is Most Prone?

The development of an addiction, or substance use disorder, never occurs as a result of a single cause. Substance use disorders are complicated disorders that affect people from all walks of life,  that result from a complex interplay between certain risk factors.

Understanding the risk factors for addiction can help you better understand what you or or a loved one are going through — and help you get on the road to recovery.

Risk Factors for Addiction

risk factors for addictionA risk factor represents a particular condition or situation that increases the probability that a person will develop a specific disorder or disease.  Some risk factors have significantly higher probabilities associated with their presence than others, and an individual who has multiple risk factors will be at higher risk to develop whatever disorder or condition the risk factors are associated with. However, there is no identified risk factor that is definitively associated with the development of addictive behaviors. Instead, the presence of certain risk factors increases the chances that one might develop an addictive behavior.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) are several risk factors associated with the development of substance use disorders and other addictive behaviors are:

  • Genetic factors: A great deal of research investigating the association between certain genetic factors and the development of addictions has indicated that a person’s genes play an important role in increasing or decreasing the probability that an individual will develop an addictive behavior.
  • Family history:  Research has long indicated that addictive behaviors are more common in some families than others. Having a first-degree relative, such as one or both parents, with a substance use disorder or other addiction increases the probability that an individual will develop some type of addictive behavior. Even having other relatives, such as uncles, aunts, grandparents, etc., with addictive behaviors is also associated with an increase in the probability that one may develop a substance use disorder or other addictive behavior.
  • A co-existing mental health disorder: A significant risk factor for the development of any type of addictive behavior is having a diagnosis of some other mental health disorder, called a co-occurring disorder, such as depression, anxiety, PTSD, or other mental health concern.
  • Trauma and stress: Individuals who experience extreme trauma or stress — especially during childhood — are more likely to develop substance use disorders than individuals who do not have these experiences.
  • Age of first use: The earlier that an individual starts using substances, the stronger the likelihood that they will develop a substance use disorder. When children use drugs or alcohol it has an impact on their developing brain, creating a vulnerability to addiction.
  • Peer group: An individual’s peer group is particularly influential on their behavior. This influence is stronger for younger individuals; however, it affects people of all ages.
  • Using certain types of drugs: Certain types of drugs have higher potentials for the development of addictive behaviors and substance use disorders than others. For example, individuals whose drug use is primarily addictive drugs such as heroin and methamphetamine are far more likely to develop a drug addiction than individuals who use drugs with less potential for addiction, such as hallucinogens (e.g., LSD or magic mushrooms).
  • Drug availability: People who live in conditions where drugs or alcohol are readily available are more likely to develop substance use disorders than individuals who have difficulty procuring these substances.

It is important to reiterate that having any or all of the above experiences does not necessarily mean that someone develop any type of substance use disorder or addictive behavior. These factors are associated with an increased risk to develop addictive behaviors; however, there also a number of protective factors that offset some risk factors.

Protective Factors for Substance Use Disorders

Individuals who may have some or all of the risk factors for addiction do not always develop the disorder. Oftentimes this is the result of  certain protective factors that are present that offset or minimize the influence risk factors.

For instance, the relationship between heredity (genes) and the development of a substance use disorder is relatively strong but not perfect. This suggests that even in the presence of significant genetic risk factors, a number of individuals must also have experienced other protective factors that offset their genetic risk. Additionally, not every individual who develops a severe major depressive disorder also develops a co-occurring substance use disorder. This indicates that other factors must be involved in the development of addictive behaviors in addition to clinical depression.

The presence of certain protective factors decreases the probability that one will develop a specific disorder or condition. Protective factors that are important include:

  • Strong perceived social support.
  • Positive experiences that foster competence and self-esteem.
  • Good social skills and problem-solving skills.
  • A strong sense of community.
  • Socioeconomic opportunities, such as work or school.

Drug and Alcohol Addiction Rehab in Hollywood, FL

Understand the risk factors for addiction is a helpful first step to finding treatment you need for substance use disorders. If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction, know that there is effective and compassionate treatment that can help. The team at Recovery First have decades of experience helping individuals overcome addiction and live a rewarding life in recovery.

Whether you need short-term or long-term treatment, we offer different levels of care to meet people where they are and help them get to where they want to be. Using advanced evidence-based addiction therapy, our expert team of treatment specialists at our South Florida drug and alcohol rehab create customized treatment plans for each individual that comes to us.

Contact one of our admissions navigators today at to find out more about our center, how to use your insurance to pay for rehab, or learn about other ways to pay for addiction treatment. We’ll be happy to answer your questions about the admissions process, what to expect in treatment — and we can even help make travel arrangements.

You aren't alone. You deserve to get help.
Recovery First is located in Hollywood, Florida, which is easily accessible from Miami or Ft. Lauderdale. Our small groups means you get more one-on-one support and make stronger connections with the community. Take the next step toward recovery: learn more about our addiction treatment programs near Florida's Atlantic coast or learn about how rehab is affordable for everyone.