Many people know that extenuating circumstances can influence the development of a substance abuse disorder, but being able to identify those factors is important to recovery from addiction and preventing relapse. The following are some of the factors that can influence your drug or alcohol addiction.
1. Your Environment
Your environment is a major contributor to drug or alcohol abuse. Exposure to illicit substances during youth has been proven to increase the likelihood of addiction. This exposure may be due to your home environment, close relatives, or friends. Through peer pressure or normalization of substance abuse in your environment, engaging in drug or alcohol abuse may seem like an expectation or right of passage. Illicit drugs and alcohol are viewed as ice-breakers or an acceptable means of having fun in today’s society. Social drinking and recreational drug use is seen as a means of relaxing and becoming more sociable, rather than the dangerous attempt at self-medicating that it is. Some people are able to stop their substance use without any lasting consequences but for many others, this can lead to an addiction. What begins as an attempt to blend into the crowd and fit in morphs into a physical and mental dependency.
2. People don’t receive the proper addiction education.
Not receiving the proper education on drug use can inhibit individuals from knowing the true consequences of heavy illicit drug and alcohol use. If one doesn’t know the negative outcomes from using substances, they may be more susceptible to developing an addiction. Parents and teachers should teach young people about drug and alcohol use and warn them against the consequences of substance abuse. The social stigmas and miseducation on substance abuse perpetuate naive thinking regarding addiction. As people are educated about the use of alcohol and drugs, they will realize how much it can truly affect their lives. The overwhelming failure of the “War on Drugs” and other fear tactics has proven that simply scaring people out of using drugs and alcohol doesn’t work. Proper education is a far more powerful tool in the fight to end addiction than fear could ever be.
3. Family can influence addiction.
Seeing drug abuse or alcohol abuse first-hand in your family life and home can cause individuals to try these substances on their own. Parents often set an example for their children. If they see that their parent is partaking in substance abuse, they are likely to follow the same path when they get older. In your younger stages, you learn by watching those around you, mimicking their behavior and processing it as a social norm. Learning from example is an important part of human development, however, when people are exposed to substance abuse during their developmental years, this influence can affect their likelihood of experimenting for themselves. Parents should make an effort to speak to their children about drug and alcohol use to protect them against the harmful consequences of substance use. Properly educating them about these substances will allow them to understand why they shouldn’t use them to begin with.
Although these are some of the many factors that influence addiction, what causes addiction to develop is unique to everyone. A person’s environment, addiction education, and family can all play a huge role in how people perceive addiction. Exposing people to the negative consequences of drug use can help them to see addiction for what it really is. It may even prevent one from going down the path of addiction, allowing them to choose a healthier lifestyle instead.