Prescription opioid use is becoming more and more controversial as the opioid epidemic continues to be a crisis in the United States. Individuals are also becoming more educated on the dangers of using opioids and the risks they may bring. Anyone can become addicted to opioids, even when only using drugs as prescribed. However, some people are more prone to abuse and addiction due to certain risk factors. Being aware of these factors can help individuals determine if taking opioids is worth the risk.
Let’s explore seven risk factors associated with opioid abuse and addiction.
Individuals who have a family history of drug or alcohol abuse and addiction are more likely to develop a substance use disorder themselves. In fact, studies have shown that up to half a person’s risk of developing an addiction is associated with his or her genetic makeup. The more instances of addiction in a person’s close family, the more at risk he or she is for opioid or other substance abuse and addiction.
2. Previous History Of Substance Abuse
People who have a past history of substance or alcohol abuse or addiction of any kind are more susceptible to opioid addiction. If you have a history of substance addiction – even tobacco addiction – be sure to tell your healthcare provider before beginning an opioid medication.
3. Environmental Influences
Several environmental factors can increase a person’s risk of developing a substance use disorder. These environmental factors can be both past and present and may include:
- exposure to sexual, emotional, or physical abuse
- being brought up in a household where drug and alcohol abuse was present
- stressors such as loss of a loved one or divorce
- being around peers who use drugs or alcohol
- easy access to addictive substances
Being exposed to one or many of these environmental factors can contribute to the development of opioid abuse or addiction.
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4. Psychological Factors
Psychological factors such as mental health disorders can increase a person’s risk of opioid abuse and addiction. For example, a person who is struggling with depression may turn to substances as a way to cope with his or her depressive symptoms. Likewise, someone with anxiety may try taking opioids in an attempt to calm down and feel relaxed. Unfortunately, addiction can often worsen mental illness and make it more difficult to successfully recover from both conditions.
Studies have shown that both younger individuals (ages 18-30) and older individuals (ages 50 and older) are more susceptible to opioid abuse and addiction. Additionally, people ages 16 to 45 are more at risk for opioid-related deaths.
6. Chronic Pain
A primary reason people are prescribed opioids is to treat and manage chronic pain. Conditions that may cause chronic pain include cancer, arthritis, back problems, and other long-term health maladies. Unfortunately, the longer a person suffers from pain, the longer he or she will likely take opioids in an attempt to manage it. Extended periods of opioid use can greatly increase a person’s risk of developing a dependence on and addiction to these substances.
7. Method Of Use
How a person uses opioids can also affect his or her risk of developing an addiction to the substance. For example, if a person crushes up an opioid medication and snorts it in order to get a more intense high, this can quickly lead to tolerance and dependence on the drug. Additionally, injecting or smoking opioids such as heroin can also drastically increase a person’s risk of addiction.
Getting Help For Opioid Abuse And Addiction
If you or someone you know is struggling with opioid addiction, it’s important to know that help is available and recovery is possible. A substance use disorder can be debilitating, but seeking treatment can help you reclaim your life. The Bluffs, located in Ohio, is a leading rehab facility that specializes in personalized programs of recovery that meet the needs of each patient who walks through our doors. With our help, you can overcome addiction and lead a fulfilling life in recovery.
To learn more about the risk factors associated with opioid abuse and addiction, contact a treatment specialist today.
- Center on Addiction — Who Develops Addiction?
- National Institute on Drug Abuse — Genetics and Epigenetics of Addiction
- AJMC — The Continued Rise of Opioid Misuse: Opioid Use Disorder
- Cureus — Risk Factors for Opioid Use Disorders in Adult Postsurgical Patients