Although the use of alcohol and drugs among young people is widespread, only a relatively small percentage of young people who try drugs become addicts. In many cases it can be difficult to identify particular markers that may lead to increased substance abuse risk and consequent addiction in adult life. There are however, many factors we can point to that may predispose someone to becoming an addict.
Alcohol and drug addiction can be at least partially attributed to genetic factors. Children may inherit certain factors (poor alcohol metabolism) that directly or indirectly (temperament, psychiatric disorders) put them at risk for a predisposition towards substance abuse and addiction. Long-term studies reveal the vulnerability factors for addiction may include things like abnormal brain function, impulsivity and hyperactivity. These vulnerabilities point to the special importance of genetic and biological factors in the etiology of addiction.
Individual temperament and personality may also increase susceptibility to addiction. Genetic factors alone are neither necessary nor sufficient to produce addiction. Environmental factors can put certain individuals at higher risk for developing addiction as well. However, individuals with genetic vulnerabilities tend to result in a higher rate of addiction when the environmental factors are present as well.
Psychological, Behavioral & Health Factors
These factors include disposition (temperament and personality), behaviors (antisocial behavior), health factors (cognitive and physical), psychopathologies (anxiety, depression, mood disorders), as well as attitudes and beliefs. There is also evidence that a number of characteristics such as early childhood aggressive behavior, impulsivity and attention deficit disorders can put a person at risk for addiction.
Studies have also shown that early adolescent substance abuse and addiction directly correlated with character traits emerging as early as pre-school. Teens who abused substances seem to have been those that had a greater degree of difficulty of adapting to change during childhood. As early as age seven, these children were shown to already be incapable of building stable friendships and were generally more socially insecure than their peers. Among boys, aggressive behavior during this period of development has also been shown to be a clear indicator of later adolescent substance abuse.
The presence of a mental disorder, particularly anxiety and mood disorders, are also important predictors of adolescent and adult addiction. For example, a clear relationship exists between anxiety in childhood and subsequent substance abuse. It has been proven that behavior or personality disorders, such as antisocial personality disorder, correlate strongly with later alcoholism and drug abuse as well.
Family & Environmental Factors
Familial factors like marital problems, family conflicts and violence also influenced the vulnerability of young people towards later substance abuse. Parents or siblings, particularly older siblings that abuse drugs or alcohol, also influence the risk factor for a young person to develop a dependency later in life. This can take place either through observed example or directly by promotion. In turn, this can affect the types of people children choose as their peers, as they may also tend to choose friends who are more likely to experiment with drugs/alcohol.
There are a number of treatment programs available for adolescents beginning to develop problems with substance abuse. Choose wisely. Oceanside Malibu Treatment Center offers a structured environment that provides our clients with the best opportunity to build a solid foundation for their recovery. Contact us today.