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Factors That Influence Drug Abuse

By Rica Lewis ; Updated August 14, 2017

No single factor establishes whether an individual will become addicted to drugs; however, the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports the overall risk for addiction may be influenced by many things. The biological make-up of the person (genetics), conditions at home, school or neighborhood and a person's developmental stage are examples of some of the factors that may lead to drug abuse. Teens are most likely to follow the crowd, which can have serious consequences when drugs are involved.

Depression / Social Disorders

Depression can prompt a person to try drugs as a form of self-medicating. In addition, those with social anxiety and stress-related disorders are more susceptible to drugs, as they attempt to decrease their feelings of distress. Most abused drugs produce feelings of euphoria and pleasure. Drugs like opiates (heroin, oxycontin) may bring initial euphoric feelings followed by relaxation and satisfaction, according to NIDA. Those experimenting with the drugs may learn to rely on them to cope with their condition and to manage life.

Genetics and Family Influence

Parents have a substantial role in the development of their children. Children gain genetic characteristics and influence from their parents. The NIDA reports that genetic factors account for between 40 and 60 percent of a person’s vulnerability to addiction. In addition, children who have a poor example to follow, such as addicted parents or older siblings, may be more prone to try drugs and may view them as an acceptable outlet.

Peer Influence

The NIDA reports friends and acquaintances have the greatest influence on adolescents. In addition, NIDA maintains the earlier a person begins using drugs, the more likely he is to become an abuser of drugs. Parents who allow their children too much freedom may find it difficult to keep a tight rein on them in their teen years and may have trouble keeping them from the wrong crowd, which may lead the teen down a destructive path. Academic failure and a poor self-image may also contribute to drug abuse. Various resources are available to help parents protect their children from the many factors that could tempt them to try drugs.

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