What makes some people more vulnerable to addiction?
Certain conditions and circumstances make some people more vulnerable to addiction than others. These risk factors do not determine one’s destiny — rather, they are useful in gauging the potential for a problem to develop.
Preventing and delaying substance use for as long as possible, along with addressing any underlying risk factors, are important to reducing the likelihood of problem substance use. Fostering your child’s coping skills, mental health and relationships, along with keeping them safe, can also serve as protective factors.
Family history of addiction
If there is a history of addiction in your family, you should discuss it with your child. These conversations can take place in the same way you would discuss a family history of diabetes or other medical conditions, and should happen no later than the early teen years.
Mental health concerns
Mental health conditions like depression, anxiety, conduct disorder or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) create a greater risk for problematic substance use and addiction. As a parent, it’s important to be on the lookout for whether your child may be using substances to cope with their condition.
It’s a good idea to talk with health care providers about the connection between mental health and substance use. Managing and treating underlying mental health conditions, or understanding how emotional and behavioral problems can trigger or escalate substance use, is important for reducing risk and preventing co-occurring disorders (that is, when mental health and substance use problems occur at the same time).
Changes to risk over time
As people move into adulthood, risk factors for substance use and addiction begin to change. At each new stage of life, new and different circumstances can create stress and added pressure, increasing vulnerability to substance use and addiction.