Home / Behaviors that often predispose Drug Addiction: Risk Factors, (Genetic, Trauma), Signs, And Symptoms


Behaviors that often predispose Drug Addiction: Risk Factors, (Genetic, Trauma), Signs, And Symptoms

October 12, 2021

There are numerous research papers over the past two decades that aim to identify and quantify the risk factors, signs, and symptoms that predispose a person to drug addiction. Having an understanding of how addiction begins and progresses greatly helps in its treatment. This allows preventative measures and early interventions to nip the problem in the bud before it gets worse.

This also serves as a guide on how to supervise teens to lessen the risk of them developing an addiction. 

Behaviors The Predispose Drug Addiction

Five-Factor Model Basis

There are psychological predispositions for substance abuse as shown in the Five-Factor Model of Personality. The five factors include:

Extraversion – This indicates how social a person is. This means that they are very outgoing and thrive in social situations, so much so that they prefer the company of other people to being alone. These individuals are full of energy and are the “life of the party.”

Neuroticism – A neurotic individual exhibits negative physical, emotional, and mental reactions to the point of irrationality. It is said that this is the body’s subconscious effort to manage extreme anxiety. All of the negative outbursts are a product of extreme stress.

Agreeableness – This refers to a person’s ability to be compassionate, considerate, kind, and warm. These individuals are approachable and understanding. 

Conscientiousness – This is marked by diligence or carefulness. The person focuses on the proper execution of a task. They also take responsibilities and obligations very seriously. People who are conscientious are organized and highly efficient.

Openness To Experiences – This refers to an individual’s open-mindedness and willingness to try new things. They are curious about the world and are willing to experiment with things or experiences that are beyond their comfort zones.

Based on the aforementioned factors, the individuals who are likely to develop a drug addiction have high extraversion, high neuroticism, high openness, low agreeableness, and low conscientiousness. 

These are not definitive since there are more factors that affect the likelihood of drug addiction. Regardless of a person’s behavior, there is still hope for a full recovery. 

Child’s Early Interactions

A child’s earliest experiences can shape their future. Children with heightened risk of drug use are often the ones who are neglected during their earlier years. This may manifest in the form of a lack of attachment from their parents or caregivers. They may also have experienced ineffective parenting or interacted with caregivers or family members who used drugs. Seeing that their role models use drugs so flippantly may lead them to perceive that it is acceptable behavior.

However, this does not mean that the child is a lost cause. These circumstances can be reversed by establishing a closer bond between child and parent, increasing parental involvement, and establishing clear limits on drugs early on.

Genetics And Epigenetics 

Drug addiction shares the same features as other chronic illnesses, one of which is heritability. There is still a lot of research to be done but early findings indicate that drug addiction can be passed genetically. A person’s inherited genetic makeup impacts their vulnerability to drugs as well as their ability to protect themselves. Scientists say that genetics take up 40 to 60 percent of a person’s likelihood to become addicted to drugs.

Traumatic Experiences

Traumatic experiences shape individuals and affect their futures. Childhood trauma impacts one’s perception of themselves and the world. It is also closely linked to addiction.

Trauma manifests in different forms, such as physical assault, rape, sexual assault, domestic violence, natural disasters, bullying, parental neglect, verbal abuse, emotional abuse, terminal illness, and accidents. A person who survived these may experience post-traumatic stress disorder. Some cases of PTSD may be so debilitating that a person may feel the need to do drugs just so they can escape their harsh reality. 

The signs of trauma may include eating disorders, lack of confidence, avoidance of reminders of their trauma, constantly reliving the traumatic event, relationship problems, romantic issues, abnormal mood swings, erratic behavior, and more. As such, one may self-medicate with drug misuse which can quickly escalate into an addiction.

Drug Availability

This is the most impactful risk factor because it indicates the person’s proximity to drugs. The mere fact that it is accessible means that they are more likely to try it out. It can start with an experiment until they get addicted to the euphoric feeling that it gives. 

The solution is to live in a drug-free environment. This extends to cutting out ties with the people who enable these addictions, from peers to suppliers. 

Stressful Situations

People who are placed in extremely stressful situations may turn to drugs as a means to self-medicate and escape. These situations may include academic stress, financial strains, work problems, relationship issues, and more. NIDA researchers also state that the people who are hypersensitive to stress are the ones who are more likely to cave in and try drugs. 

One must learn the value of stress management so that it won’t escalate into vulnerability to drugs. Start by taking care of yourself, maintaining your focus on the things that matter, practicing mindfulness and calmness, and learning how to talk about your feelings so that you can get help.

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