risk factors for substance abuse

10 Risk Factors for Substance Abuse – And Why You Shouldn’t Ignore Them

Substance abuse is a huge issue right now, and the problem appears to be trending upward. 

Not only do people addicted to substances hurt themselves, but this problem also creates more than $700 billion in damages and expenses related to medical care, crime, and lost job productivity. 

Substance abuse issues don’t just arise overnight — there are always warning signs. 

Below we’ll dive into risk factors for substance abuse so you can remain aware and take action when you or someone you love needs help. 

Ten Important Risk Factors for Substance Abuse

There are several risk factors at play that could lead to substance abuse issues. Here are 10 of the biggest risk factors:

1. High Levels of Stress

Right now we’re a nation living with intense levels of stress. 

In fact, close to 80% of people report dealing with physical symptoms of stress on an everyday basis. These numbers are alarming, but explain why people are turning to substances to alleviate their stress and pain. 

A person whose brain is swimming with stress chemicals is also less likely to not make sound decisions. When your stress levels are high, you’re more likely to make decisions that negatively affect your health and make it difficult for you to deal with everyday life. 

2. Deep-Seeded Emotional Trauma

The trauma of our formative years often plays itself out well into adulthood. 

When you have deep emotional trauma that hasn’t been confronted and addressed, you are more likely to deal with it by busing substances. In many instances of rehabilitation, people are forced to confront deep trauma in order to heal. 

3. Lack of Supervision From Parents or Guardians

People who weren’t properly supervised at a young age are also more likely to develop a substance abuse problem. 

They didn’t have the guidance or support they needed, and thus, do not have as many strong personal boundaries as someone who did. When left unsupervised, kids and teenagers are also more likely to run with the wrong crowd and do too much, too soon, making it much easier to abuse drugs during their adult lives. 

4. Living in Poverty

Socioeconomic issues also contribute to whether or not a person is likely to deal with substance abuse. 

Many impoverished areas don’t have the same access to education, opportunity or nutrition found elsewhere. This feeling of disenfranchisement contributes to a lack of hope, which makes people more likely to abuse drugs. 

5. Easy Access to Drugs

A person who grows up or lives somewhere that drugs are easy to get will be more likely to indulge. 

This can also boil down to a social circle. If your circle of friends regularly abuse drugs, you are more likely to fall into the habit as well. 

6. Spending Time Behind Bars

People who are incarcerated are also more likely to abuse substances. 

Not only do you often come out traumatized and hurting for employment opportunities, but a lot of illicit drugs are also used behind bars. It’s easy to fall into the trap of using when you’re counting down the days to go home.  

7. Bouts of Depression

Studies show that 1 in 5 people in the United States suffers from a mental health issue, and close to 8 million are dealing with PTSD. 

Substance abuse is very much a mental issue, so people that are depressed are more likely to use. Drugs can be used as a coping mechanism, especially when the mental health issue is undiagnosed or not properly treated. 

8. Poor Overall Health

Your entire body works in unison, so when you don’t take care of it, you can experience a domino effect that can lead to substance abuse. 

Being overweight can lead to chronic pain and injury, which can lead to treating the problem with pills or other substances. When the problem keeps getting worse and mental health and self-image also drop, it can create a cycle of using drugs to heal both physical and mental pain. 

Conversely, when exercise, nutrition, and regular doctor visits are the norm, you’re more attracted to things that make you even healthier. It’s important to keep your overall health a priority so you don’t fall into the substance abuse cycle.

9. Aggressive Behavior and Impulsiveness

In a lot of situations, people who regularly abuse substances are impulsive and sometimes aggressive. 

They might lack the thought process that causes them to take a step back and think about what they’re doing before indulging. This is a slippery slope because they’re also more likely to double down on use once they begin abusing drugs. 

10. A Lack of Education or Job Prospects

Finally, never forget that knowledge is power. 

When people have more information on health, psychology, and drugs, it’s easier to see the landscape for what it is so that they can avoid going down that path. Conversely, when a person is uneducated about such matters, it’s easier to go down the path with blinders on. 

What’s more, education and job potential go hand in hand. People that are busy with school and work have more to lose and are less likely to indulge in substances.

Consider These Risk Factors and Get Help When You Need It

When you realize the risk factors for substance abuse, it becomes easier to recognize when you might have a problem. 

We specialize in all sorts of substance abuse care and would be glad to help you out. 

Reach out to us to learn more about the programs and services we offer. 

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