Risk Factors to Chemical Addiction

Posted by in Articles, Scott Sweet

by Scott Sweet

Addiction or chemical dependence can be defined by having psychological or physical need for something that can not be controlled.  This can lead to a number of negative consequences on relationships, education, finances, health and emotional growth.  Anyone can become dependent on a drug, yet some specific risk factors are listed below:

  • Age of first use – It is estimated that about 40 percent of those who begin using substances before age 14 develop dependence issues in their life.  Only 10 percent of those who did not begin using until 20 years or older developed dependency later in life.
  • Practice/Frequency – Continued repetition of voluntary drug taking begins to change into involuntary drug taking with some estimates that this progression from social using to abuse to dependence ranges from 3-15 years in duration.  Average age of the “switch” is mid-thirties yet can vary widely.
  • Quantity – Coupled with frequency, the more one uses a drug when they use it can accelerate the dependency risk.
  • Type of Drug or the Drug of Choice – Science indicates that most drugs affect the brain in the same manner, yet some do have a greater impact on neurotransmitters, which create the high.  A methamphetamine user is at a higher dependency risk than a caffeine user.
  • Family History – If one’s parents were users, there is an increased likelihood of dependency, even when adopted or raised by non-alcoholic parents from birth.
  • Environment = Life Trauma – Data indicates those who have suffered from a traumatic event in one’s life have greater risk factors for dependency.
  • High Tolerance – Those who understand that their body it not affected as much as others with the same use have greater tolerance, hence, greater risk.  Tolerance can be noticed for some even during their first time use.
  • Mental Health Diagnosis – Those suffering from a pre-existing mental health diagnosis are more at risk for self-medicating themselves to cope.

Knowing your own risk factors can help one make better-informed decisions about how they define their relationship with chemicals.