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Environmental Risk Factors for Addiction

May 2021 Environmental Risk Factors for Addiction

Anyone, regardless of socio-economic status, is capable of developing a substance addiction. This is partly due to the fact that there are many different risk factors for addiction. While some may say that risk factors for addiction are genetic, others may claim that they are all environmental. 

Is Addiction Genetic or Environmental?

The answer is both. Addiction is both genetic and environmental. In fact, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), up to half of a person’s risk for addiction to substances is genetic. The other half is environmental. This means that half of what makes a person more likely to misuse substances is his or her genetic makeup and history. 

For example, if a person has close, older relatives that have struggled with substance addiction, the chance of that person developing a substance addiction at some point in life increases. This is partly due to the passed down genetic traits from these relatives to said person. 

One of these genetic traits may include a natural tendency to be more risk-tolerant. Another one of these genetic traits may be a person’s metabolism. This is because a person’s metabolism can process and absorb substances at a speed that makes a substance’s euphoric effects last longer. 

Although people may have a genetic predisposition to substance addiction, it doesn’t mean that they’re doomed to developing an addiction. This is because the other half of the risk factors for addiction are environmental. 

Environmental Risk Factors for AddictionEnvironmental Risk Factors for Addiction

Environmental risk factors for addiction are external factors that influence a person into abusing substances to the point of addiction. Examples of these factors include people and places. These addiction risk factors for addiction can trigger a person’s already existing genetic risk factors for addiction. This, in turn, can cause a person to develop a full-fledged drug or alcohol addiction. 

Even without the existence of genetic risk factors for addiction, environmental risk factors for addiction can lead to the development of substance addictions. Some common environmental risk factors for addiction are described below.

Abuse or Neglect in the Home

Even if a person lives in a home where substance addiction isn’t an issue amongst any of his or her close relatives, he or she may start using substances to cope with environmental risk factors for addiction that are occurring in the home. For example, mental, physical, or emotional abuse in the home are environmental risk factors for addiction. 

As a result, such abuse can cause a person to turn to substances to cope with the pain that he or she is going through. Neglect can also lead to using substances to cope. 

Peer Pressure

Another major environmental risk factor for addiction is peer pressure. Although many people view peer pressure as something that only goes on amongst children, it’s something that actually occurs quite often amongst adults. For example, if an adult is at a party where his or her close friends are abusing alcohol and drugs, he or she can likely be peer pressured into abusing alcohol and drugs as well. 

Early Drug Use

Early drug use is another common environmental risk factor for addiction. This is because the human mind doesn’t fully develop until a person is around his or her mid-twenties. Therefore, the chemical changes that drugs make to the brains of young people that use substances will alter the way that they develop. This, in turn, increases the chance that such people will develop substance addictions. 

Choice of Drugs

The type of drug that a person uses can also act as an environmental risk factor for addiction. This is because some substances are much more addictive than others. Therefore, the more addictive the substance, the more likely it is that a person will become addicted to the substance.  

Once individuals develop a dependency on their substances of choice, if they chose to use highly addictive substances, the withdrawal symptoms that they will experience when they try to minimize or discontinue their drug use will be extremely intense and painful. This makes their addiction worse.  

As a result, individuals that have been using highly addictive substances will likely choose to continue using more and more of the substances rather than feel the substances’ horrible withdrawal symptoms. Unfortunately, continuing to use more and more highly addictive substances only leads to substance addiction. 

Method of Drug Use

Even the way a person uses substances is one of the environmental risk factors for addiction. This is because smoking or injecting substances makes the effects faster and more intense. 

This is because when a person smokes or injects substances, he or she is allowing the substances to go straight to the bloodstream and brain. On the other hand, when a person consumes substances orally, the substances must go through the person’s liver and organs prior to reaching the bloodstream and brain. Thus, individuals that smoke or inject the substances that they use are more likely to become addicted to them.


Stress is one of the top environmental risk factors for addiction. This is because people are very likely to turn to substance use to cope with stress. Stress is also a top environmental risk factor for addiction because it can often cause people to develop mental illness, which is a common catalyst for substance addiction. 

How to Manage Environmental Risk Factors for Addiction

To manage all of the environmental risk factors for addiction, people should first make themselves aware of their risk factors for addiction. Then, they must take the proper measures to ensure that they don’t succumb to their environmental risk factors for addiction.

For example, to combat peer pressure, individuals should avoid hanging out with people that misuse substances. People should also avoid going to parties or events where people are always misusing substances. 

To combat early drug use, individuals should make a conscious effort not to use substances while they are young. To combat the drugs of choice environmental risk factor for addiction, individuals should not use highly addictive substances. 

The hardest environmental risk factor for addiction that was discussed in this article is the one dealing with abuse or neglect at home. To combat such serious risk factors for addiction, individuals should talk to other adults that they trust about their issues so that they can receive help. Family therapy for addiction is also a great tool to use to combat abuse or neglect at home.

Rehab for Individuals That Have Succumbed to Their Risk Factors for Addiction

risk factors for addictionIndividuals that have succumbed to their environmental risk factors for addiction should attend detox followed by professional addiction treatment.  

Medical Detox

As a safety measure, it’s best to attend a medical detox facility while detoxing from substances. This is because medical detox facilities contain physicians and medical staff that can give you prescription medication to help you manage withdrawal symptoms. 

Once you’ve completed medical detox, the next step is addiction treatment. There are different types of addiction treatment. The type that you should attend depends on the severity of your addiction. 

Inpatient Treatment

Individuals with severe addiction should attend inpatient treatment. This is because inpatient treatment programs are highly structured. They also provide patients with 24/7 care and monitoring. Therefore, patients can receive constant support as they focus strictly on achieving sobriety. Because inpatient addiction treatment patients must receive 24/7 care and monitoring during treatment, they must live in rehab facilities while receiving care. 

There are two types of inpatient treatment. One is standard inpatient treatment and the other is residential inpatient treatment. Both types of inpatient treatment require patients to live in rehab facilities while receiving care. They also both provide patients with 24/7 care and monitoring. 

The key difference between the two forms of inpatient treatment is that standard inpatient treatment is more structured and intense. Residential treatment programs, on the other hand, are more casual. Therefore, residential treatment patients get more free time to themselves and more time to participate in holistic forms of treatment. 

Outpatient Treatment

Outpatient rehab contains addiction treatment programs that don’t require patients to live in rehab facilities while receiving care. Therefore, outpatient rehab patients can live at home and tend to their day-to-day responsibilities in between treatment sessions. 

There are three main types of outpatient treatment that a person can attend. The most intense one is partial hospitalization program (PHP) treatment. 

Partial Hospitalization Program Treatment

Partial hospitalization program (PHP) treatment requires patients to attend rehab five to eight hours a day, five to seven days a week. When not receiving treatment, PHP patients can live normal lives at home. PHP treatment is for individuals with moderate to severe addictions. 

Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) Treatment 

The second most intense version of outpatient rehab is intensive outpatient program (IOP) treatment. IOP treatment requires patients to attend rehab for approximately a few hours a day, a few days a week. Individuals that receive IOP treatment contain moderate-level addictions. 

Outpatient Program (OP) Treatment 

The least intense version of outpatient rehab is standard outpatient program treatment. Regular outpatient program rehab only requires patients to attend rehab for a couple of hours a day, once or twice a week. Therefore, outpatient program patients only suffer from mild level addictions.

Learn How to Manage Your Environmental Risk Factors for Addiction At Phoenix Rising Recovery

Here at Phoenix Rising Recovery, we offer various detox services and different forms of addiction treatment for people that have succumbed to genetic and environmental risk factors for addiction. For rehab patients that need extra support after addiction treatment, we also offer sober living home services. That’s because we here at Phoenix Rising Recovery know how important it is to receive support throughout every stage in the addiction recovery journey. 

Our mission here at Phoenix Rising is to help our patients gain insight and learn the necessary tools and skills to thrive without the use of substances. We also make it a priority to treat any underlying conditions behind each patient’s addiction through co-occurring disorders treatment and various unique forms of addiction therapy. 

We even incorporate mindfulness into our addiction treatment programs. Thus, you can rest assured that you’re receiving everything that you need to achieve long-term sobriety while receiving care at our treatment center. This includes learning coping mechanisms to manage your environmental risk factors for addiction once you enter back into the real world. 

To learn more about Phoenix Rising Recovery and our detox, addiction treatment, and therapy services, contact us today! We would love to help you achieve lifelong sobriety.