It’s been said that most people are predisposed to certain traits or activities. Some people might have bouts with depression, some might have anger issues or some people might be temperamental. Others may have difficulty with anxiety. Still others might have a predisposition to addiction in one form or another. Addiction risk factors include far more considerations than predisposition, whether it’s real or perceived. While the discussion of genetic predisposition continues to rage on in the scientific community, there is no better judge of a person’s inclination to addiction than a person’s own self-assessment. Identifying addiction risk factors helps both the addict and his healthcare professional’s ability to take preventative action. Denial notwithstanding, most people are at some point in their lives, able to recognize that they might be susceptible to developing an addiction. While a predisposition to addiction can be worrisome, it by no means that addiction is inevitable. Of course, a predisposition is only part of the picture when it comes to your risk of developing an addiction. While it certainly increases your risk, it doesn’t make its occurrence inevitable. On top of that, there are almost always other factors that come into play – and each of these can influence the direction the scales are tipped. The good news is that armed with self-awareness you can do many things to reduce your risk for addiction and keep the scales tipped in your favor. The key is identifying and understanding your own particular vulnerabilities and taking a proactive rather than passive stance. Once you’re on the road to addiction, it is difficult to stop. The longer it goes untreated, the more intense it becomes. That is why you need to stop an addiction from happening in the first place. If you want to protect yourself or others from falling into the grip of addiction, then you will need to know prevention strategies. One of the best ways to prevent addiction is to recognize and addiction risk factors. Take a look at your surrounding environment. What do you think can spur an addiction? Here are the most common risk factors, and how you can address them accordingly. Lack of supervision: Addiction can occur early on in childhood, usually when children are left unsupervised. It is important that children and adolescents have adult role models keeping an eye on them and setting a good example. Children are easily influenced by their environment, and if they are around people who stay away from addictive substances, then they are less likely to fall victim to addiction themselves. Drug availability: When drugs are readily available, it is easy to become addicted. Prescription drugs are the most available addictive substances in most households. While most prescription drugs are great for treating illnesses and ailments, it may be wise to consider alternatives. Speak with your doctor about other solutions for health problems, and only use prescription drugs as a last resort. Limit the amount of prescriptions you are taking so that you are reducing the amount of readily available substances within your home. Stress: Many people turn to addiction because of stress. They use drugs and alcohol as a way to calm their nerves and to unwind after a stressful day. Although it seems like a good idea at the time, relying on certain substances to de-stress can be harmful, especially when it leads to an addiction down the road. Find other methods for combating stress in your everyday life. Exercise, yoga, vacations, and family get-togethers are all better options for de-stressing. Never look to alcohol or drugs as a solution. These are the most common addiction risk factors, but a variety of environmental components can affect your chances of encountering addiction. If you believe you are at risk for an addiction, it is best to seek professional guidance immediately. It is easier to defeat the addiction if you catch it in its earliest stages, so don’t hesitate to get help right away.
What Post-Mortem Data Tells Us About Addiction Risk Factors
Health records of people who have died due to opioid addiction or are receiving treatment reveal important risk factors that need to be taken into consideration while designing and executing necessary plans aimed to deal with the menace. Some risk factors have been listed as under:
- Hereditary traits: Genetic makeup playing a role in understanding the proclivity of a person to indulge in addictive substances, including prescription medicines, cannot be ignored. Having a parent or both parents abusing pain relievers can make some people more inclined to abuse opioids themselves.
- Prior substance abuse: Prior experience of abusing substances make it difficult for some people to abstain altogether from using any kind of drug owing to the withdrawal symptoms. Tendency to relapse or consume drugs for a temporary feeling of high may cause people to misuse opioids too. Personal history of illicit drug use or excessive consumption of alcohol strongly predicts potential of opioid abuse later.
- Environmental influences: The kind of environment one is raised has a lot to do with the choices one makes regarding profession or drugs inclusive of analgesics. Being brought up in conditions where drug use is common increases the risk of people abusing drugs themselves, resulting in prolonged dependence. At times people start abusing opioids, which, later transcends into misusing illicit substances depending on cost and ease of availability. Also, seeing one parent or both the parents abusing prescription opioids may create curiosity in the minds of teenagers to try out opioids, which can cause dependence in the long run.
- Unattended emotional issues: Disturbances in the mind, if ignored, may snowball into major cases of depression and anxiety. This may cause such people to self-medicate by taking opioids in an attempt to gain relief from the burden of anxiety. Impulsive personality may also contribute to some people behaving wayward resulting in them abusing prescription opioids.
- Pain severity: Feeling of pain is one of the foremost reasons resulting in risk of abusing opioids. Extreme pain is treated by opioid drugs such as Vicodin, OxyContin etc. Low pain tolerance in some people results in them overdosing on opioids to get the necessary relief. Apart from providing the necessary relief from pain, opioids also lend a feeling of high to such patients. Long-term overdose increases the tolerance level of the person towards opioids, which results in unbridled abuse and aggravates the risk of addiction.
- Demographic factors: Age, gender, race and place are all important factors that affect opioid abuse. Studies have indicated young white men are more inclined to abuse opioids than others. The young are more likely to be diagnosed with problems pertaining to misuse of prescription pain relievers. This revelation stems from observations of most people afflicted with prescription drug use disorder to be young, while the percentage of disorder decreases with age. Also, women have been found to be more inclined to abusing drugs as a means of self-medication to the emotional issues they face in their daily lives.
Seeking recovery from opioid addiction
There is an imperative need to understand that recovery is a lifelong process with relapse being common manifestation of the severe problem of addiction. As a result, it is important to enroll in a holistic treatment plan that includes medication-assisted treatment, psychotherapies, experiential therapies like yoga, meditation etc. and recovery management.