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5 Risk Factors for Opioid Addiction

By Nichole Tucker, MA
Certain things can make you more likely to become addicted to opioids. Learn the risk factors of opioid dependence.

Why do some people become addicted to opioids and others don’t? As it turns out, there are certain things in your life and your DNA that can make you more likely to become addicted. 

1. Your Genes

“Genetics contribute to 50%-60% of an individual's vulnerability to develop an addiction,” Lynn Webster, MD, tells WebMD Connect to Care. But even if you take opioids and you have genes that raise your risk, it doesn’t mean you’re destined to develop an opioid addiction, Webster says.

Still, many people battling this addiction do have family members who’ve been addicted to opioids or other drugs, according to MedlinePlus.

2. Your Environment

Where you live and who you grew up with can raise your risk, according to MedlinePlus. You’re more vulnerable to opioid addiction if you:

  • Experienced abuse or neglect as a child
  • Live in poverty
  • Live somewhere rural
  • Spend time with people who abuse drugs

“Depressed economic and impoverished social conditions are determinants that plant the seeds for many addictions, including opioid addiction,” says Webster.

3. Your Mental Health

Webster says certain mental health conditions can raise your risk. These include: 

  • General anxiety disorders 
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) 
  • Attention-deficit / hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

“People can abuse opioids because they self-medicate mental health disorder,” Webster says. This abuse can lead to addiction. “Untreated or undertreated mental health disorders are major reasons for abusing opioids. Screening and adequate treatment of mental disorders would reduce the risk of opioid abuse.”

4. Access

You can’t become dependent on a drug that isn’t readily available to you. So if you can easily get prescription or street opioids, your risk for addiction goes up, according to MedlinePlus.

5. Your Age

According to Mayo Clinic, you’re more likely to start abusing prescription meds such as opioids when you’re a teenager or a young adult. This can raise your chances of becomming addicted. Mayo Clinic also says more and more older adults are abusing presciption drugs, too.

Get Help Now

If you or a loved one is struggling with opioid addiction, WebMD Connect to Care Advisors are standing by to help.

Treatment & Resources for Opioid Addiction