Risk Factors for Addiction
We all know that many people can drink, or gamble, or play computer games and never become addicted, while others do. So what is it that makes some people develop an addiction while others don’t? It doesn’t seem fair, and it often isn’t. Science has not yet identified the causes of addiction, but certain predisposing factors that increase a person’s risk of developing addiction, are already known. This is very useful information for everyone to know. If you know you might be at increased risk, you can take extra care to avoid, or moderate, your exposure to situations or behavior that might lead you down that path to addiction.
The Main Addiction Risk Factors
- the genetics you might have inherited from your parents or grandparents – this is probably the strongest of all potential risk factors
Everyone wants to know what the causes of Addiction are, including health professionals and researchers. Finding a definite ‘cause’ of addiction has not yet been achieved. But we do know a lot about the risk factors that increase our risk of developing an addiction. It’s important to understand the difference between the cause of something, and the risk of developing something.
We also know a lot about the physical and chemical changes you can actually see in brain scans of people with an Addiction. These changes are the tell tale signs and results of addiction, but do not explain the actual ‘Cause’ of Addiction.
A cause is something that is proved to be the direct cause of something else. A must equal B. A direct cause and effect relationship has to be proved. Just because two situations often occur together doesn’t mean that one thing causes the other. They could both be caused by a third factor that no one knows about yet.
Things that commonly occur together might only be a coincidence. Or, one might be the cause of the other – no one knows for sure until science and research have either proved or disproved, which of those options is true.
A risk factor is not a cause.
Risk factors are discovered and assessed differently. Continue reading
Along with most other people of my generation, I grew up in a society that accepted cigarette smoking as normal for anyone over the age of about 18. We’ve learned a lot about risks to our health since then! At that time, it was also thought that to be healthy, you needed to eat what was called a good breakfast. In our house, that meant fried egg, fried bacon, and bread fried in animal fat left over from the Sunday Roast. Both my parents smoked, and like lots of other people of their generation, they both died of heart disease before the age of 60.
My parents smoked about 20 cigarettes a day, and packets of open cigarettes were always left lying around in the home. When I was about 13 years old, I started stealing the occasional cigarette from an open packet. I didn’t count this as stealing of course, just helping myself. But I did it in secret, Continue reading
If we find we are beginning to lose control over something we do, such as drinking alcohol, smoking cigarettes, gambling, or using drugs, what would it take to make us seriously think about trying to change what we do? We can think about this question by considering a sliding scale of life-changing situations, or personal crisis, and then consider how powerful any of them might be for us, personally, at any time in our lives.
Make it personal. What would it take to shake you up, and make you think about trying to change what you do? How bad would my situation have to be, before I’ll make that decision to try and change, and try to do things differently? It will be different for each individual person, and at different times in our lives.
You Do Not Have to Reach Rock Bottom
Our situation does not have to reach rock bottom before we will change our behaviour, as some people suggest. This is one of the Myths of Addiction. Ask yourself this: are you using that myth as an excuse to not change what you do? Do you say to yourself, Continue reading
Today I am able to bring you a very special audio download. It’s about one person’s long struggle with Alcoholism, and how they have managed to remain sober for 42 years through the help and support of AA, and a supportive family. The alcoholic in this interview is Prof. Ross Fitzgerald. He was interviewed for the ABC by Rachael Kohn, on the ABC’s program, The Spirit of Things.
I regard this very moving confession by Ross Fitzgerald as one of the bravest things I’ve ever had the privilege to listen to. He holds nothing back as he recalls all the tragedies and deepest emotions of his life.
It’s inspiring as well as informative. He explains about AA, and what it means to him in his life, and the lives of others. He is incredibly honest about the very painful and personal struggles he goes through almost daily as an ‘alcoholic who doesn’t drink’. I think this interview will inspire hope in many of the people who hear it, as well as respect for Ross Fitzgerald’s honesty and courage. Continue reading