Drug Abuse and Dependence - What Increases Your Risk
Not everyone who uses a
drug develops a drug problem. Certain things make
dependence more likely. These are called risk factors.
Risk factors include:
Genes. People with drug
problems often have a family history of drug use. Studies report that
genes may influence whether you use drugs and whether
you move from drug use to drug abuse and dependence.1
Gender. More men use drugs than women, but
the rate of abusing prescription drugs is similar in men and women. Among
people who use drugs, more women than men have serious mental health
Early use. The earlier you began to use
drugs, the more likely you are to abuse them or become dependent.3 This may be because early drug use changes the developing
How you use. If you smoke a drug or inject it into a vein, you are more
likely to become dependent.3 These methods give you a
fast and intense "high," but you lose the high quickly and then feel low. This
may make you use the drug more often.
The drug you use and how strong the drug is. Some drugs, such as heroin and cocaine, are so strong that
dependence is possible no matter how you use them. It doesn't matter if you
inject them or snort them.
Environment. If you live in an area where
drugs are easy to get, people use drugs, or drugs are accepted as part of life,
you are more likely to use drugs.
Family. At early ages, your family plays a large role in how
you feel about drugs. If your parents or older brother or sister used drugs or
broke the law, you are more likely to use drugs.3 If a
spouse or partner uses drugs, you are more likely to use drugs.3
Your friends may influence you to use drugs by directly urging you to or by
using drugs when you're around them.
Problems with others. You may be more
likely to use drugs when you are having problems in your family or with
Not having purpose or satisfaction in your life. If you have no activities that give you a sense of purpose,
you may be more likely to use drugs. A satisfying job or schoolwork or
volunteer activities can give your life purpose and meaning.