Addiction is a dangerous and chronic disease that can damage your relationships, physical and mental health, and overall quality of life. All psychoactive substances, including prescription medications and legal substances, have the potential to cause addiction. Like other diseases, addiction becomes progressively worse over time. Unfortunately, addiction doesn't have a specific known cause, although there are a variety of risk factors for addiction. However, unlike certain medical and mental health conditions, addiction and substance abuse disorders are chronic, meaning that they don't have a known cure. The only way to fully recover from addiction is to learn how to manage your symptoms and adjust your lifestyle to support sobriety and abstinence. Risk Factors for Addiction Since addiction is a progressive disease, it develops in stages. Substance abuse disorders impact about 23 million Americans annually, meaning that struggling with an addiction isn't uncommon. While addiction starts with your first use, transitioning from occasional or recreational use to dependency has no set time frame. Although addiction isn't a genetic condition or a disease caused by weak willpower, there are a couple of major risk factors for addiction. Struggling with a mental health disorder or a comorbid condition are both risk factors for addiction. Mental health conditions, like depression or anxiety, can increase your chances of using drugs and alcohol, especially as a means to self-medicate your symptoms. Medical conditions, especially ones that cause pain, are also risk factors for addiction because many substances, like opiates and alcohol, can numb the pain. A few other common risk factors for addiction include: \tExperiencing childhood trauma or having an unstable family life \tHaving a close relative with an addiction history \tGrowing up or living in an area where drug and alcohol use is common \tHaving friends who use drugs and\/or alcohol \tHaving an increased sensitivity to drug or alcohol Not all risk factors for addiction are within your control. But understanding that certain things can increase your chances of developing a substance abuse disorder is important. Recovering from Addiction During addiction, your brain becomes dependent on your substance of choice to release neurotransmitters. This causes a significant neurotransmitter imbalance. When you begin the recovery process, your brain must re-learn how to function without drugs or alcohol properly. You can also experience mood changes during the early stages of recovery, especially if you have a co-occurring mental health disorder. When dependent on a substance, you need to undergo detox. Luckily, most inpatient and outpatient treatment centers offer medically supervised detox services. Detox can alleviate and limit the severity of your withdrawal symptoms and make it easier to recover. Starting Your Recovery Journey Today When you're learning about the risk factors for addiction, you can feel ashamed, embarrassed, and alone. Reaching out is the first step in ensuring you have the tools, support, and guidance you need to recover. If you have any questions about addiction or recovery, or if you're ready to start treatment, reach out to us today at .