Substance abuse issues such as alcohol and drug addiction can impact anyone regardless of age, race, gender, ethnicity, or economic status. While the majority of people who use alcohol and drugs, including some who use them regularly, do not develop the disease of addiction, some do. This brings up the question of whether or not certain risk factors are associated with addiction and whether there are factors that may lower the risk of a substance use disorder.

Risk Factors for Substance Abuse

The truth is that no two people the same. While it can be said that addiction does not discriminate, this statement does not reveal the entire picture. For instance, a 2011 JAMA Psychiatry study determined that drug use among adolescents is highest in white and indigenous Americans. The rates of addiction among these groups were 5 percent of black adolescents, compared to 7.7 percent of Hispanic teens, 9 percent of white teens, and 15 percent of indigenous teens.

A study just published in Frontiers in Public Health reinforces these figures at the adult level. The study reveals that the rates of substance abuse are low among Hispanic and black adults who might have other risk factors, including living in an urban environment.

This recent study was based on data gathered on over 2,800 Hispanic and black adults who live in high poverty areas. Some of the leading factors that are linked to substance abuse include:

  • Poverty
  • Homelessness
  • Incarceration
  • Low health literacy
  • Symptoms of depression
  • Lack of support

Based on the factors studied, over one-third (36 percent) of the study’s participants met the diagnostic criteria for a substance abuse diagnosis. Other potential risk factors that were not examined include a family history of addiction, other psychological factors, family strength, childhood trauma, domestic violence, and engagement in the community. These are additional risk factors that have been identified in other studies that could influence addiction.

Factors that Lower the Risk of Substance Abuse

Protective factors are opposite of risk factors. These are factors that may be associated with a lower likelihood of future substance abuse issues, or that may reduce the impact of those risk factors just outlined. Some common protective factors include:

  • Strong academic influences
  • Parental monitoring
  • Strong neighborhood attachment
  • Employment
  • Emotional support
  • Greater health literacy

In the most recent study, 38 percent of men and 27 percent of women were categorized as low-risk based on the presence of some of these protective factors.

Seek Qualified Substance Abuse Treatment

When the addiction becomes a fact of life, it is natural to want definitive answers as to why addiction has taken hold. Unfortunately, those may not be available in every case. Risk and protective factors can influence substance abuse throughout a person’s life, and there is no way of knowing which factors might counteract some more than others until further studies are done.

If you or any of your loved ones have developed a substance abuse issue, know that you are not alone. Alcoholismand drug addiction are medical concerns, not moral failures. The best way to put problem alcohol and drug use in the past is with the help of a comprehensive substance abuse treatment center that tailors a program for each client’s needs. Contact The Recovery Village today to learn about how our focused and compassionate drug addiction treatment and rehab programs can help free you from the chains of addiction.

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.