There are many factors that influence addiction beyond genes and biology. One of the most significant is the family environment and early life experiences. Family interactions, parenting style, and levels of supervision play a role in developing coping skills and susceptibility to mental health problems. Addiction is a complex chronic disease affecting the brain and occurs due to many different underlying causes.1 Scientific research around the world continues to identify several risk factors, such as genetics and the environment, that contribute to the development of an addiction.
However, the causes of addiction are not yet fully understood, 15. The link between genetics and addiction continues to be a topic of strong debate. Reports have found that between 40% and 60% of addiction predisposition is the result of genetics and, in addition, that children of people suffering from addiction are 25% more likely to also develop addiction compared to children of non-addicted parents. Researchers are actively looking for an addiction gene, but family tendencies toward addiction seem more likely to be the result of environmental factors such as exposure and normalization of drug use. The nurturing argument is also relevant to addiction.
While genetic predisposition is possible even if it has not been conclusively determined, the environment in which we grow up and in which we continue to thrive has a huge impact on mental and physical well-being and, therefore, is a major cause of addiction. So far we have discussed several genetic, environmental and social influences that may contribute to the causes of addiction, but we cannot ignore the role that the brain and body play in the disease of addiction. Every time you eat, have sex, or participate in any activity that contributes to survival, your brain is flooded with dopamine. Another factor that clearly contributes to addiction is the type of substance a person takes.
For example, opioids are highly addictive, since they target receptors in the brain directly. The most common roots of addiction are chronic stress, a history of trauma, mental illness, and a family history of addiction. Understanding how this can lead to chronic substance abuse and addiction will help lower your risk of becoming an addict. Next, we'll look at addiction and its roots, and discuss practical ways you can reduce your risk of developing a drug or alcohol addiction.
Cultural and social factors determine what are the acceptable or permissible 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 which of these factors has the greatest influence on a person cannot be determined in all cases. Broader social and environmental factors also play a role in the development and continuation of addiction.