The environment is one of the major risk factors for addiction and drug abuse, along with genetics. There are many elements that make up a person’s environment, and it can be difficult to pinpoint which areas trigger you personally. Understanding the reasons behind your substance use disorder is an important aspect of recovery, and group and individual therapy are the best ways to do it.
Read on to find out about the environmental factors that put someone at a higher risk of addiction.
10 Environmental Factors That Influence Substance Abuse Disorders
Research has shown that these are among the 10 most common environmental factors that put someone at an increased risk of addiction in the United States.
1. Family History
Someone who has a family history of substance abuse, mental health disorders, or criminality is at a greater risk of developing an addiction. Watching family members use substances as a child can normalize the behavior of a young person, particularly if they’re vulnerable in other ways.
2. Family Dynamics
Individuals who’ve come from a violent or negligent family are more likely to develop substance use disorders. This is because they’re likely to develop maladaptive patterns of coping with stress during childhood, making harmful or self-destructive behaviors more likely in adult life.
3. Peer Pressure
The individuals you surround yourself with play a huge role in your behavior. No matter how strong-willed some people think they are, if they hang around with a friend group that regularly abuses drugs or alcohol, they’ll eventually end up joining in. Not everyone falls victim to peer pressure, but most people do choose to make friends with others who share similar interests.
4. Mental Health Conditions
While some mental health conditions are genetic, others are triggered or caused by the environment. Mental illnesses like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) take a massive toll on how you interact with your environment, which can cause some people to seek comfort in substance abuse.
5. Using Substances as a Young Adult
One of the most prominent risk factors for SUDs is using addictive substances as a young person. Whether it’s cigarettes, alcohol, or illicit drugs, getting the brain into the pattern of craving and abusing substances at a young age makes a person significantly more likely to struggle with addiction throughout life.
6. Film, TV and Celebrity Culture
There’s so much access to celebrities and such a variety of content on the TV and in a film that young people can get exposed to drug culture at a young age. Even adults can be susceptible to copying what they see their favorite on-screen icons doing.
7. Social Media
Social media piles pressure on people to present their best life every day, which can take a significant toll on mental health. Some people might turn to drugs to deal with anxiety related to harmful internet use.
8. Learned Environments
The physical environment can become a trigger in and of itself for some people. Actions like having a drink as soon as you get home from work or hanging out in a club where you and your friends have used drugs create an association with these places. This can trigger cravings any time you repeat these actions.
Trauma is the result of an experience your brain couldn’t process properly, leading to harmful emotional consequences. What causes one person to be traumatized might not do the same to another, but examples include assault, accidents, bereavement, and other extreme emotional events.
There are a lot of different things to juggle at school, from grades and major life choices to friendship groups and budding relationships. The pressure causes some people to get caught up in the party scene as a means of escape.
Other Risk Factors for Addiction
The other risk factor for addiction is genetics, which most scientists agree on accounts for around 50% of a person’s vulnerability to SUDs. Some people’s brains give them an automatic propensity to fall into the cycle of drug and alcohol use disorders.
There isn’t a single gene, or even two or three, but somewhere around 50 genes that interact and create a mental state that’s more prone to this particular mental health issue.
Not everyone who has the genetic predisposition will go on to abuse illegal drugs or alcohol, just like not everyone who experiences trauma or peer pressure will. It’s a complex mixture of genes and environment that determines if someone is at high risk of addiction or not.
Protective factors are the flip side of risk factors, and treatment programs can help addicted people and their loved ones to implement and nurture as many as possible. Some examples include:
- Having a view of drug abuse that’s in keeping with social norms
- Striving for success at school, work, or training
- Parents having close bonds to their children and teenagers’ lives
- Parents monitoring friend groups and attitudes
- Clear boundaries set by household and family members
- Strong and positive family bonds
Anyone Can Resort to Harmful Alcohol or Drug Use
Although trauma, mental illness, and history of addictive behavior in the family increase a person’s risk of developing an addiction, it can still occur in people who haven’t had any experiences like that. Some genetic traits predispose a person to an addictive personality, such as strong impulsiveness and sensation-seeking traits. In other instances, the person might have simply found substances to be a quick solution to a problem in their life.
No matter what the underlying cause is, you can get sober with guidance from a caring support network and medical attention at an addiction treatment center.
Everyone Can Overcome a Substance Use Disorder
If you or a family member is struggling as a result of drug or alcohol abuse, the help you need is out there. Call our Fort Myers rehab today at 844-254-9664 to speak to an addiction expert about the steps you can take towards recovery right now.