Not everyone who drinks alcohol will become an alcoholic, just as not everyone who tries drugs will develop a drug addiction. However, addiction can happen to almost anyone. It is not an illness that affects a particular type of person, contrary to what some people believe. It is impossible to tell who will and who will not be affected, but some risk factors make it more likely for addiction to become a problem for certain individuals.
Risk Factors for Addiction
- Family history of addiction raises the risk that a person will develop addiction themselves. Those who have grown up with alcoholics or drug addicts are more likely to develop an addiction in later life.
- The environment in which a person grows up can also play a role in the likelihood of that individual becoming addicted. This will include their family life, their relationships, friends, quality of life, stress levels, peer pressure, and socio-economic status.
- Mental health disorders are also linked to an increased risk of addiction. Many people with illnesses such as depression or anxiety disorder will turn to substances such as drugs or alcohol in a bid to self-medicate. This can lead to addiction.
- The age at which a person begins experimenting with drugs and alcohol can also play a role. The younger a person starts taking these substances, the higher their risk of addiction.
- Probably the biggest risk factor is unresolved trauma. Those who have experienced physical, emotional or sexual abuse in their early years have an increased risk of addiction. Unresolved trauma can also include being bullied, the loss of a loved one, domestic violence, or living with a parent who has mental health issues.
Most people are aware of the troubles that have plagued the life of actress Danniella Westbrook. A rising star, she joined the cast of Eastenders at the age of sixteen, but her very public battle with a cocaine addiction led to a series of other issues. She was sacked from the show and was subsequently photographed with a collapsed septum after years of snorting the drug.
Experimenting with the drug at such a young age may have led to a higher risk for addiction, but Danniella has now revealed that she had another risk factor; she was sexually abused when she was just seven years old.
In a new show, Danniella Westbrook: In Therapy, to be aired on Channel 5 next week, Danniella speaks about her cocaine addiction and the abuse she suffered as a child. She said, “At seven I was like a 14-year-old. There were certain things going on with me that shouldn’t have been … I was betrayed by lots of people.”
She also revealed that she is disconnected from sex because of her ordeal and said, @Sex doesn’t mean anything to me … I feel absolutely nothing.”
Despite her public struggles, Danniella managed to get clean and stayed that way for twelve years, before suffering a relapse in 2014. She has previously admitted that when times get tough, she automatically turns to drugs.
Danniella’s struggles with a drug habit will be familiar to many people around the UK. The threat of relapse is a constant worry for recovering addicts, and the urge to return to drug use when times get tough is something that many individuals will be able to relate to.
It is important, therefore, to know what triggers your addictive behaviour and learn to head this off before it becomes an issue. This may mean avoiding certain places and people for a while at least. It is also important to know what to do when you do feel the urge to use again. Call your sponsor or head to your nearest fellowship meeting to avoid succumbing to your cravings.