Are some people more prone to addiction?
People can get addicted to many things. In addition to the commonly known addictions of drugs and alcohol, people can also get addicted to almost anything that helps relieve stress or discomfort. This includes video games, fast food, caffeine, shopping, gambling, sex, and even exercise.
Anybody can get addicted to something, regardless of their age, intelligence, and background. Chances are, somebody that you know is addicted to something.
But did you know that some people are more prone to addiction than others? It’s true! Medical research centers, such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH), have found that certain risk factors make certain individuals more prone to addiction.
Children of addicts are more likely to become addicted themselves. While specific genes haven’t been linked to addiction and the exact link is unknown, studies have shown that alcohol and drug dependence can run in families.
Those that have a genetic tendency are more likely to be drawn to or crave a specific substance. Withdrawal symptoms can also be stronger. However, just because someone with a genetic tendency has a stronger risk of becoming an addict doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll become one.
While genes play a factor in addiction, environmental factors can as well. Children of substance abusers are more likely to experiment with drugs or alcohol themselves. This could be because addiction has become normalized for them or because of some other sort of psychological or genetic factor.
It could also be because drugs and alcohol are more readily available and/or are acceptable within the family. Or, in some cases, the individual never learned healthy coping mechanisms and instead learned self-destructive behaviors.
Those with a mental health illness, such as depression, anxiety, or ADHD, are more likely to turn to drugs and alcohol in an attempt to self-medicate. And once they start self-medicating, they develop an addiction.
This is because drugs and alcohol can temporarily numb the symptoms of their mental health illness. To get that numbness back, they keep using the substance. In many cases, drugs and alcohol can make mental health symptoms worse, which creates a vicious cycle of abuse.
While studies have proven that there is a correlation between addiction and high IQ, medical professionals are still trying to understand this correlation. There are quite a few hypotheses, however.
One popular hypothesis is that those with higher IQs work high-stress jobs and therefore turn to drugs or alcohol to relieve this stress. Another hypothesis is that those with high IQ are more likely to struggle with mental health and emotional stability, therefore turning to substance abuse to numb those feelings.
Someone that struggles with stress and doesn’t have healthy coping mechanisms may find themselves drawn to addictive behavior or substance as a way to relieve some of that stress. They find a way to deal with the stress temporarily, so they continue using that behavior or substance so often that it becomes an addiction.
Those that rely on addiction to relieve stress should develop healthy coping mechanisms to use when stressed, such as going for a walk or practicing meditation.
Those that have a strong desire to fit in with their peers may find themselves experimenting with drugs or alcohol as a way to fit in. Especially in children and teenagers, peer pressure can lead to someone trying a substance in order to get noticed.
In addition to addiction, peer pressure can result in other risky behaviors, such as driving under the influence of alcohol or overdosing. Tweens, teens, and even young adults can find themselves struggling when trying to fit in.
Seeking help for addiction
If you suspect your or a loved one has an addictive personality, don’t hesitate to get help. Even if it isn’t a drug or alcohol addiction, any form of addiction can negatively impact somebody’s life. The sooner you can get help, the better.
To get help, find a therapist in your area. Therapy can help people develop healthy coping mechanisms. Depending on the intensity of the addiction, some people need to go through an in-patient treatment program to help them overcome the addiction.
While it is important to remember that anybody can get addicted, it is also important to remember that certain factors can make people more prone to addiction. If you suspect any of the above factors could apply to your life, you should be mindful to develop healthy coping mechanisms that don’t involve an addictive behavior or substance.