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While addiction is not exactly hereditary it does have some hereditary components. Children born to addicts or alcoholics are much more likely to have a problem if they do ever fall into addiction. However, there are other risk factors that may make you or someone you love more likely to fall into addiction. Some areas that may affect a chance of addiction are genetics, environment, early use, type of drug use, and method of use.
As mentioned, genetics do play a part in drug addiction. The chemical reactions that happen in the brain when you are in active addiction are very different from someone who does not use. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, up to half the risk of addiction to alcohol, nicotine, or other types of drugs is based on genetics. This helps explain why some people may be able to smoke on occasion for pleasure while others need nicotine to function. If you have a family history of addiction then you must be ever weary of any use or experimentation. Related to genetics are environment. If you grow up in a household or neighborhood where drugs and alcohol are prominent. Where it seems that everyone is using and stuff is readily available. You are at a high risk for using. Peer pressure is very real.
The age at which you first start to experiment is also a big factor in addiction. If you have your first taste of alcohol at an early age you are more likely to continue drinking and becoming dependent. The same is true of drug use. It may seem that smoking pot at an early age is not a problem. But as the person ages the use of stronger drugs may be needed to achieve the same feeling. This can lead to a stronger addiction rapidly. The type of drug used and how that drug is taken into the body can also affect addiction. Those who use drugs intravenously are more likely to have a stronger addiction than those who smoke. However, the type of drug used is also a factor as substances such as cocaine and heroin are much stronger than marijuana.
Finally, a dual diagnosis can affect level of addiction. A dual diagnosis means that there is something going on other than addiction or addictive personality. This is often depression, anxiety, bipolar, or some other form of mental illness or disability. Often drugs are used to deal with the mental illness issues and the effects snowball into full blown addiction.
The good news in all of this is that even with all of these risk factors, you are not destined to suffer from addiction. You may be more likely to become addicted, but you do not have to become an addict. You are in charge of your life and your destiny and if you choose to abstain for the entirety of life than you have no worries. If you are an addict you are still not tied to your risk factors. You can enter and stay in recovery and overcome your risk factors if you are willing. What choice will you make for your life?
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