Addiction Risk Factors - Who is at Risk? | CASAColumbia

Who develops addiction

Who develops addiction?

Anyone can develop addiction, but genetics plays an important role. Addiction touches virtually every family and circle of friends, regardless of age, gender, race, ethnicity or economic status.

Addiction risk factors

Addiction risk factors

As with other diseases, there are specific risk factors associated with  addiction including:
  • Genetic predisposition
  • Certain brain characteristics that can make someone more vulnerable to addictive substances than the average person
  • Psychological factors ¬†(e.g., stress, depression, anxiety, eating disorders, other mental illnesses)
  • Environmental influences (e.g., exposure to abuse or trauma, substance use or addiction in the family or among peers, exposure to an addictive substance and exposure to popular culture references that encourage substance use)
  • Starting substance use at an early age

Having one or more of these addiction risk factors does not mean someone will become addicted, but it does mean the odds are greater. The more risk factors present, the greater the chance that an individual will develop the disease.

Role of genetics

While psychological and environmental factors appear to be more influential in determining whether an individual starts to use substances, genetic factors appear to have more of an influence in determining who progresses from substance use to addiction.


  • CASAColumbia. (2012). Addiction medicine: Closing the gap between science and practice. ¬†
Genetics account for 50-75% of the risk for addiction.

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