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Why do Some Teens Stay Sober and Others Get Addicted?

An addiction is a complicated disease that impacts the physical, emotional and mental health of a teen. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (1), regular substance abuse changes the brain and impacts an individual’s self-control. Although substance abuse contributes to an addiction, some individuals do not become addicted to drugs or alcohol. By understanding the factors that increase or decrease the risk of an addiction, you or a loved one can make adjustments to the current lifestyle so that it is easier to avoid drugs or alcohol in the future.

Genetic Factors of Addiction

According to the Mayo Clinic (2), genetic factors contribute to addiction development. There are two ways that genetics can impact addiction development: it increases the risk of addiction or it protects against addiction. Physiological factors, or the way the physical body reacts to a substance, impact the way that an addiction develops. Some individuals have protective genes, which means that the substance will not change the brain quickly. If an individual does not have as many protective genes, then he or she has a higher risk of addiction.

Social Factors of Addiction

The Mayo Clinic (2) explains that environmental factors also contribute to an addiction. Environmental factors, which focus on lifestyle and behaviors within a social environment, are often the primary causes of addictions. Although a genetic predisposition increases the risk of addiction, an individual will not develop an addiction if they are in an environment that discourages substance abuse. Social and environmental factors include:

  • Family dynamics
  • Life experiences, including traumatic experiences
  • Peer pressure
  • Personal and family belief systems
  • Availability of a substance

Life experiences and social environments differ between every individual. Peer pressure or a social environment that encourages substance abuse increases the risk of an addiction. On the other hand, a supportive environment that discourages substance abuse reduces the risk of developing an addiction.

Lifestyle Habits of Addiction

Although it is not possible to change genetic factors, it is possible to adjust lifestyle habits and personal behaviors. The primary factors that reduce the risk of addiction include:

  • A strong and supportive social network
  • Healthy lifestyle behaviors, such as regular exercise, healthy diet plans and engaging in healthy stress-relief activities like meditation or yoga
  • Avoiding negative social environments that encourage substance abuse, such as avoiding bars or refusing to attend parties that will encourage substance abuse
  • Addressing mental health disorders or physical health concerns

Research explains that a negative social environment contributes to depression, loneliness or other negative emotions. That can contribute to addiction by encouraging substance abuse. By making adjustments to the social environment, an individual addresses the risk factors and reduces the risk of an addiction.

Reducing the Risks of Addiction

There are several factors that contribute to the development of an addiction, but that does not mean that individuals cannot take action to reduce to risks. By learning from others, you or a loved one can make positive changes that discourage substance abuse and encourage sobriety. If a loved one is showing signs of a substance abuse, then encourage a professional treatment program and offer a supportive environment to help with the recovery process. Contact us at 877-466-0620 to learn more about how we can help with teen addiction.

Source: (1)