Risk factors

People of any age, sex or economic status can become addicted to a drug. However, certain factors can affect the likelihood and speed of developing an addiction:

Family history of addiction. Drug addiction is more common in some families and likely involves genetic predisposition. If you have a blood relative, such as a parent or sibling, with alcohol or drug problems, you're at greater risk of developing a drug addiction.
Being male. Men are more likely to have problems with drugs than women are. However, progression of addictive disorders is known to be faster in females.
Having another mental health disorder. If you have a mental health disorder such as depression, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), you’re more likely to become dependent on drugs.
Peer pressure. Peer pressure is a strong factor in starting to use and abuse drugs, particularly for young people.
Lack of family involvement. Difficult family situations or lack of a bond with your parents or siblings may increase the risk of addiction, as can a lack of parental supervision.
Anxiety, depression and loneliness. Using drugs can become a way of coping with these painful psychological feelings and can make these problems even worse.
Taking a highly addictive drug. Some drugs, such as stimulants, cocaine or painkillers, may result in faster development of addiction than other drugs. However, taking drugs considered less addicting — so-called "light drugs" — can start you on a pathway of drug use and addiction.

 

Preparing for your appointment

It may help to get an independent perspective from someone you trust and who knows you well. You can start by discussing your substance use with your primary doctor, or ask for a referral to a specialist in drug addiction, such as a licensed alcohol and drug counselor, or a psychiatrist or psychologist. Take a relative or friend along.

What you can do

To prepare for your appointment:

Be honest about your drug use. When you have a drug-use problem, it can be easy to downplay or underestimate how much you use and your level of dependence. To get an accurate idea of which treatment may help, be honest with your doctor or other mental health provider.
Make a list of all medications, vitamins or other supplements that you're taking and the dosages. Tell the doctor about any legal or illegal drugs you're using.
Prepare questions to ask your doctor.

Basic questions to ask your doctor include:

What's the best approach to my drug problem?
Should I see a psychiatrist or other mental health provider?
Will I need to go to the hospital or spend time as an inpatient or outpatient at a recovery clinic?
Are there any brochures or other printed material that I can have? What websites do you recommend?
What are the alternatives to the primary approach that you're suggesting?

Don't hesitate to ask questions anytime during your appointment.

What to expect from your doctor

Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions. Be ready to answer them to reserve time to go over any points you want to focus on. Your doctor may ask:

What drugs do you use?
When did your drug use first start?
How often do you use drugs?
When you take a drug, how much do you use?
Do you ever feel that you might have a problem with drugs?
Have you tried to quit on your own? What happened when you did?
If you tried to quit, did you have withdrawal symptoms?
Have any family members criticized your drug use?
Are you ready to get the treatment needed for your drug problem?

 

(Mayo Clinic Staff)