Depression and mental illnesses are gradually starting to be understood, which minimizes the stigma around them. But substance abuse is far from being understood as most people still think the addict can simply stop taking the drug. The stigma alone can make things worse for an addict, but also for those around him or her. Knowing the signs that put you at higher risk of substance abuse, compared to other people, is very important, just like it is in the case of depression. These signs are not a sure way to say you will become addicted, but a warning for you to keep an eye on your habits, if you recognize them.

A family history of addiction

Genetics do play a role in addictive behavior, as shown by multiple studies. Despite the fact science has failed to identify a gene linked to addiction, there are studies which found that addict’s children are eight times more likely to become addicted, compared to children with non-addicted parents. This shows that genetic factors must be considered, so if you have a family member who suffers from an addiction, it’s safe to keep an eye on your own behavior.

You have low tolerance for stress

Studies showed that stress prone people are more likely to become addicted to alcohol or drugs. This is because they try to numb their feelings with the illegal substance. There is a fine line between drinking a glass of wine after work and drinking the whole bottle in order to relax and get some sleep. If your first reaction to stress is to reach for alcohol or another substance, even food, you should talk to a doctor.

If you suffer from a mental condition

People who suffer from a mental condition are prone to develop an addiction on an illegal substance, because they use it to “cure” their pain. Patients with anxiety, depression or PTSD were found to be three times more likely to develop an alcohol addiction. They are also prone to develop drug addictions, as they attempt to self medicate in order to relieve their symptoms.

You experiment with drugs

If you are experimenting with drugs your risk of becoming addicted is definitely higher. The most addictive substances are nicotine, barbiturates, cocaine, heroin and alcohol. If you already have a family history of addiction or a mental illness, you are even more prone to develop an addiction. The statistics show that 21% of those who experiment with cocaine develop an addiction, while 1 in 4 people who experiment with heroin become addicted. This happens because the drugs alter the way your body is producing and perceiving dopamine, the hormone which makes you feel good.

Being bullied

Not only teens can be bullied, but also grownps and sometimes this increases the risk of developing an addiction. Social anxiety and loneliness can make someone look for happiness in drugs or alcohol. Teens are at higher risk of developing an addiction this way, but as more and more adults experience difficulties at their job or outside it, they are also at risk. These people turn to drugs to gain confidence and feel good in stressing situations. Without friends and families, they have really hard times noticing their addiction and treating it.

If you believe you are addicted to something, talk to your doctor, who can diagnose you and guide your steps to be able to get the help you need.