Factors That Contribute to Substance Abuse

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Most common Factors That Contribute to Substance Abuse

Substance abuse and drug addiction can result from many factors, but before we can dive into the various factors, let’s understand what substance abuse and drug addiction is.

Substance abuse is a disease that affects the normal function of the brain, leading to the inability to control the use of both legal and illegal drugs.  Nicotine, bhang, alcohol, and marijuana are also drugs. And when you abuse them, you might get addicted to them despite the harm they cause your body.  Even though substance abuse is a chronic problem, it’s both treatable and preventable.

At American Addiction Institute of Mind and Medicine, Our goal is to not only assist in providing world-class addiction treatment but to educate you about all aspects of addiction and recovery. 

Common Factors that influence drug use

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Anyone from any social status, background, race, or gender can become an addict. However, there’s scientific evidence proving that certain people have higher risk factors for substance abuse than others.

Many factors increase the risk of a person becoming addicted to drugs. Factors such as family history, genetics, mental issues, and the environment can increase someone’s substance abuse susceptibility.

That said, let’s look at the factors that contribute to drug addiction based on three categories: social, personal, and risk.

American Addiction Institute's Approach To Treating Substance Abuse

World Health Organization (WHO) Principles of Good Care for Chronic Disease:

  • Develop a treatment partnership with patient
  • Focus on patient concerns and priorities
  • Support patient’s self-management of disease
  • Organize pro-active follow-up
  • Link patients to community resources/support
  • Work as a clinical team
  • Involve “expert patients”, peer educators, and support staff
  • Ensure continuity of care
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Social factors that contribute to substance abuse

Lifestyle Appeal



Bonding experience

Lifestyle Appeal

Some people find the lifestyle of substance abusers appealing and sometimes even glamorous. Admirers will observe how the community of substance abusers dress, what they do for fun, the music they listen to, their attitude toward responsibility and structure, and find this lifestyle alluring.

A casual admirer enticed by the novelty of this lifestyle might fail to see the negative aspects such as unstable relationships, family disputes, absenteeism at work, and declining salary.

The bonding experience

Most people, especially contemporary youths, struggle to relate to peers. The stress of socializing is one of the primary reason why most people turn to intoxicants like alcohol and marijuana to curb social anxiety.

Alcohol the famous “Social lubricant” is often available in social gathering places. Being under the influence makes peer interaction simpler- individuals feel more confident, speak up, quicker to crack jokes, worry less about rejection, and feel less self-conscious.

But just like any other drug, alcohol can make people socially uninhibited. Intoxicated individuals can become aggressive, offensive, obnoxious, and sometimes very difficult to hand.

Marijuana abusers, on the other hand, might feel relaxed and mellow in social gatherings, but they also stand a risk of increased paranoia, the tendency of getting lost in their own thoughts, and pronounced lethargy.


All the individuals who take part in bullying-  whether they’re the perpetrator, the victim, or a combination of roles- have been positively associated with increased alcohol use.

Victimization is also positively associated with other forms of substance abuse, including inhalant, hard drug use, and marijuana, that’s why it’s more likely for victims of bullying to engage in substance use than uninvolved youth.

The allure of rebelling

The abuse of drugs, by nature, builds the sense that one is rebelling against the expectations of society and norms.  Most youths turn to substance abuse as a way to go against the authorities and the limitations imposed upon them at various institutions and homes.

According to studies, substance abuse can be the platform from which adolescent youth derive a sense of identity.  The most common treatment to satisfy the desire to rebel is called Dialectical Behavior Therapy(DBT). Here individuals curate a list of the things they like doing for fun; then they select activities that satisfy their urge to be naughty without being harmful.

Personal factors that contribute to substance abuse


Stress results from a variety of situations. Individuals may feel develop stress because they’re pressured to achieve perfection, or they live in poverty.

Furthermore, stress can steam from sexual, physical, or psychological abuse.  People suffering from stress are more likely to use drugs. That’s why youths are encouraged to enrol in various youth programs like church and sports groups to abstain from drug use.

Failure in school

Poor academic performance might push students into indulging in substance use. Because they’re usually neglected and lack support from teachers and sometimes even their parents, unlike those teenagers who do well in school.

school stress can led to substance abuse

Stable home environment

When parents are involved in the lives of their children, they help to reduce the chance that their children will use or abuse drugs.

However, if the home environment is unstable, and the parents’ abuse drugs themselves, the children are more likely to fall victim to substance use and drug addiction.

Ease of obtaining drugs

How easy a person can attain drugs, whether, at home, school, or at a friend’s house will determine whether an individual might try to use or abuse the drugs.

Risk factors with substance abuse


Coming from a family that had a drug addict in the past doesn’t necessarily mean that you will become an addict yourself. However, there is a high possibility that you may become an addict if you choose to use or abuse drugs. Usually, genetics contribute 40 to 60% to the risk of drug addictions.

Mental illness

Individuals suffering from various forms of mental illness, including depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder, are more susceptible to drug abuse for several reasons.  Maybe the drugs provide them with a sense of euphoria and a sense of well-being. 

Also, substance abuse depends on the form of mental illness. Some mental illnesses might affect the part of the brain where drugs affect, therefore increasing the risk of abuse.

Ethnic group

Different ethnic groups metabolize drugs differently, meaning that some ethnic groups might be more susceptible to substance use than others. Additionally, the impact of society can also influence the use of drugs.

For instance, white Americans are more likely to abuse drugs than Hispanics or African-Americans. Nevertheless, the side effect of drug abuse, like STIs and teenage pregnancies, have a greater impact on minority groups.

Bottom Line about Substance Abuse Factors

While most people know about the factors that contribute to substance use, very few have taken the necessary steps to overcome them. But that’s doesn’t mean that it’s impossible.   With the right care and mindset, anyone suffering from substance abuse and drug addiction can get treated.  

So if you, your friend, or family member is suffering from drug addiction or substance use, get help. Substance use is preventable and treatable.

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