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Who Is at Risk of an Addiction?

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Although anyone can become addicted to alcohol or drugs, some of us share environmental or biological factors that increase the risks.

Although with regular use of certain drugs or alcohol anyone risks addiction, some people may have a genetic or environmental predisposition towards the disease. People who may be at greater risk of developing an addiction include:

  • People who start using drugs or alcohol at a younger age - People who start drinking before the age of 15 are 5 times more likely to develop an addiction to alcohol than people who wait until the age of 21 to start drinking. 1
  • People with a close genetic relative who’ve had a drug or alcohol addiction (doctors think that genetics play a 40% to 60% role in the development of addiction) 2
  • People with mental illness (people with mood disorders are about twice as likely to have a drug abuse disorder) 3
  • People immersed in environments that promote or model drug use or heavy alcohol use as normal behaviors – or in areas with easy drug or alcohol availability
  • People who have been a victim of abuse, whether emotional, physical or sexual
  • People who feel socially excluded or discriminated against because of gender, race or sexual orientation
  • People who use highly addictive drugs, such as heroin, OxyContin, cocaine or methamphetamine are at a greater risk of developing an addiction than people who use less addictive drugs like marijuana
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Page last updated Aug 05, 2010

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