Family history or genetics are a major factor that can determine if you can or will become addicted to substances. People who have a history of addiction in their family are more likely to become addicted to the substance after trying it. Most experts believe that anyone can become addicted to alcohol or other drugs. Some substances, such as nicotine and heroin, are so addictive that excessive or daily use can cause addiction in anyone.
However, most people who test substances don't progress to excessive use or addiction. Cultural and social factors determine what are the acceptable or permitted forms of drug or alcohol use. Public laws determine what type of drug use is legal or illegal. The question of what type of substance use can be considered normal or acceptable remains controversial.
Substance abuse and dependence are caused by multiple factors, including genetic vulnerability, environmental stressors, social pressures, individual personality characteristics, and psychiatric problems. But it is not possible to determine in all cases which of these factors have the greatest influence on a person. Researchers have found that there are some aspects of a person's life that may contribute to a person's less likely to have problems related to substance use or addiction. A family doctor, psychiatrist, or qualified mental health professional usually diagnoses substance abuse.
A mental health problem, along with addiction or substance use, is known as a co-occurring disorder. Children who have had a history of trauma (such as having witnessed or experienced violence or abuse) have been shown to be at greater risk of using substances and addictions later in life. ii Many people who experience addiction or substance use problems also suffer from stigma and discrimination. A variety of substance abuse treatment (or recovery) programs are available for inpatients or outpatients.
Substance abuse, as a recognized medical brain disorder, refers to the abuse of illegal substances, such as marijuana, heroin, cocaine, or methamphetamine. Starting to use alcohol, nicotine, or other substances at an early age is one of the strongest and most consistent indicators of an increased risk of addiction. In order to address the prevention of HIV and STDs, high-risk substance use is any adolescent use of substances with a high risk of adverse outcomes (i.e., most adults who meet the criteria for substance use disorder began using substances during adolescence and young adulthood). The experience of addiction or substance use is different for each individual, and there is often a combination of biological, psychological and social factors that can contribute to a person struggling with addiction or substance use.
At each new stage of life, new and different circumstances can create additional stress and pressure, increasing vulnerability to substance use and addiction. Substance use or addiction in the family or among colleagues; easy access to nicotine, alcohol, or drugs; and more frequent exposure to popular culture and advertising that encourage substance use may contribute to increased risk. Substance dependence is the medical term used to describe drug or alcohol abuse that continues even when significant problems related to their use have developed.
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