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 use 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 dependence and addiction.
Individuals who have a family history of drug or alcohol use 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 use and addiction.
Along the same lines, gender also plays a role in the development of opioid dependence and addiction. Studies have shown that men are more likely than women to develop a substance use disorder. Additionally, men are also more likely to die from an overdose.
In addition, women who are pregnant or breastfeeding are also at an increased risk for developing an opioid use disorder. This is because opioids can cross the placenta and affect the baby’s development. Additionally, opioids can be passed through breast milk and can cause drowsiness, breathing problems, and other serious health issues in infants.
2. Previous History Of Substance Use
People who have a history of substance or alcohol use 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 use
- Being brought up in a household where drug and alcohol use was present
- Stressors such as the 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 use or addiction.
4. Psychological Factors
Psychological factors such as mental health disorders can increase a person’s risk of opioid use and addiction.
People who suffer from mental health disorders such as anxiety, depression, or PTSD are also more at risk for developing an addiction to opioids. This is often because people with mental health disorders self-medicate with drugs or alcohol in an attempt to cope with their symptoms. However, this only ends up making their symptoms worse and can lead to a full-blown 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 use and addiction. Additionally, people ages 16 to 45 are more at risk for opioid-related deaths. Therefore, it’s important to note that the risks associated with opioid use and addiction differ based on age group.
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 use 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 drug 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 use and addiction, contact a treatment specialist today at 850.374.5331.