What Increases the Risk of Having a Drug Problem? (Part 1)

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Every year during National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week®, teens around the country ask questions about substance use on Chat Day, a live online chat with NIDA’s scientists. This year, we saw several questions about what can put a person at greater risk for problems with drugs or alcohol. Questions included:

  • Are teenagers at greater risk for drug addiction? – sv42, New York
  • Are teens more likely to do drugs if their parents are smokers? – Anthony G, New York
  • Can alcoholism and drug addiction be inherited? – J_Blasian04, California

Here are some factors that can make a person more likely to develop a drug problem:

  • Starting drug use when you're young. When kids or teens use drugs, it affects how their bodies and brains grow. Using drugs when you're young increases your chances of becoming addicted when you're an adult.
  • Hanging around other people who use drugs. Friends or family members who use drugs might influence you to use drugs.
  • Trouble at home. If a person’s home is an unhappy place, or was when they were growing up, they might be more likely to have a drug problem. When kids aren't cared for, or there are lots of fights, or a parent is using drugs, the risk of addiction goes up. Kids in these situations should ask for help from a trusted adult, like a school counselor, a coach, or someone from their faith community.

We’ll look at more of these risk factors in our next post.

Read Part 2 of “What Increases the Risk of Having a Drug Problem?

Find Help Near You

Use the SAMHSA Treatment Locator to find substance use or other mental health services in your area. If you are in an emergency situation, this toll-free, 24-hour hotline can help you get through this difficult time: call 1-800-273-TALK, or visit the Suicide Prevention Lifeline. We also have step by step guides on what to do to help yourself, a friend or a family member.

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