Causes of Addiction and Factors that can lead to it (Part 1)

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Both biological and environmental elements contribute to whether a person is at risk of addiction and it is usually a combination of the two that leads a person to it.

Research indicates that drug abuse is more likely to begin in adolescence due to the very nature of those teenage and young adulthood years where the brain is driven to try new things and experiment without that judgment or self control that is developed in later life.

Teens are heavily influenced by their peers and are often in some fashion pressured into trying substances, be it in a social setting where they can’t say no or amongst friends in an effort to fit in because ‘everyone is doing it’.

As ever the best weapon in preventing the onset of addiction is education, should any of the following situations sound familiar please visit your GP or talk to someone. If you feel it is too late, you’d be wrong, consider a residential rehabilitation program for help.


Genes, age and gender all have a part to play in a person’s susceptibility to substance abuse. Biological indicators that can hint at possible future addiction include –


Genes, with other contributing factors, are thought to account for 40% - 60% of the people who develop a drug addiction. Whilst it is true that drug and alcohol abuse can run in families, having a family member struggling with addiction can put a person at higher risk of following in these footsteps. It can also achieve the opposite however; no one is pre-destined to a life of addiction.

Growth Stage:

Strong research indicates that the earlier an individual experiments with substance abuse the higher the likelihood of addiction later in life. One reason for this is that a teen’s brain is more susceptible to a drugs influence because of the changes occurring in the brain during adolescences years of growth and development.


Similar to the way an espresso may affect one person and have no affect on another individual. If a person likes the effect of a substance they are likely to continue in using it to achieve the desired result.

The Substance:

Some drugs are easier to form an addiction to than others by their simple chemical make-up, e.g. heroin or cocaine.

Injury or Illness:

Painkillers legally acquired can develop into a dependency long after the original need for them has expired. Takers may not even realise they’re addicted till it is taken away from them.

Mental and Emotional Disorders:

Those suffering from mental or emotional illnesses (depression, anxiety, ADHD) are at a higher risk of turning to substance abuse to cope, especially if left untreated. Self-medication is a common excuse in these cases, ‘I took it to make me feel normal again’.


Stress and frustrations are common emotions in day-to-day lives, however for those susceptible to addiction these feelings will be far harder to deal with. A particularly low tolerance to these emotions is common, these individuals will seek an route of escape, often leading them to substance abuse.


Whilst women appear to turn to drugs designed to treat anxiety and sleeplessness, men are more likely to turn to alcohol and marijuana. However this is not always the case and everyone is different, and whereas in the past a greater number of men were admitted for substance abuse this gap has reduced in recent years.


With elements of both biological and environmental components, ethnicity and its relation to substance abuse is a complex one. For example, whilst some races have different rates of metabolism of drugs which can alter a drugs effectiveness they also have cultural and social factors that influence drug use, e.g. in Muslim culture alcohol is a banned substance and so be less accessible for abuse.

Confidential counselling and advice is available through private rehab and extensive support and help. Los Olivos is a residential rehabilitation centre situated in Spain, it offers residential rehab for drug and alcohol dependent guests with round the clock care and support. Please contact us for further information.