26 Feb 2016
February 26, 2016

4 Risk Factors for Drug Addiction

Addiction, Featured

Over the past several decades, scientists have been trying to figure out how drug addiction begins and what the effects of drugs are on different people—all with the goal of improving addiction treatment. While many people try drugs and alcohol, not everyone will become addicted. In fact, many factors can contribute to someone’s risk of developing a substance abuse problem.

At Cornerstone, we offer drug addiction help to increase your chances of beating the odds.


The most common risk factor for drug addiction might be genetics. It has been known for decades that alcoholism runs in families. Recently, geneticists have been able to use advanced screening techniques to discover gene mutations that are associated with addiction.

However, just because your genetic makeup puts you at an increased risk of developing alcoholism, for instance, it does not mean that you will become an alcoholic. “Ultimately, addiction is influenced by many factors, including a person’s environment, parents, expectancies of what drinking or using drugs will do, and one’s individual response to drugs and alcohol,” says the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence.


Stressors can drive someone to self soothe, thereby increasing his or her risk for substance abuse. Outside, or external, things that can cause people to use drugs and alcohol as a coping mechanism include:

  • Stressful living environment
  • Family conflicts, or a dysfunctional family dynamic
  • Relationship problems, or an abusive spouse
  • Stressful life events like death, divorce, or losing a job

Addiction is also a learned behavior. If your parents drank, you might drink, too—perpetuating a “transgenerational” pattern of drug addiction. If you grew up in a neighborhood where many of your peers used drugs, you’re more likely to be at risk for using, too. The availability of drugs, poverty, and a lack of parental supervision are all environmental risk factors.

Mental health disorders

Some believe that an “addictive personality”—a specific set of traits, including being impulsive or sensation-seeking—puts someone at a greater risk for drug addiction.

In many cases, however, it is a mental health disorder that leads to addiction. In fact, nearly half of people who have a substance use disorder also have a co-occurring mental health disorder, like depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia. By using drugs and alcohol, people learn to “self-medicate” what is often an undiagnosed mental health disease.

Taking addictive prescription medications

Taking a highly addictive drug, like OxyContin, Percocet, or another opioid painkiller, can increase someone’s risk of becoming addicted to not only the prescription, but to harder versions of it—specifically heroin. “In 2012, over five percent of the U.S. population aged 12 years or older used opioid pain relievers non-medically,” says NIDA, with an estimated 2.1 million addicted to prescription opioids and an estimated 467,000 addicted to heroin.

Contact Cornerstone Today

While there are certain risk factors for becoming addicted to drugs and alcohol, addiction can affect anyone. At Cornerstone, we offer drug rehab, and we can also help with a dual diagnosis in our Co-occurring Services Program. Call us today at 888-711-0354, or contact us online if you or your loved one needs drug addiction help.