Some people may choose to experiment with addictive substances, thinking they can quit before they become addicted. However, several factors determine how quickly you can become addicted to a substance.
Whether or not you will become addicted to a substance is about 50% determined by your genetics. What this means is that some people are predisposed to addiction and need to watch out for warning signs and risk factors in their lives. These people may become addicted to a substance more quickly than those who are not predisposed. Even if there is no genetic history of addiction in your family, you should still be aware of the other factors below, because you could still be at risk for addiction.
If you are going through a difficult period in your life, you may be more susceptible to drug or alcohol addiction. When your mental health is under stress, you may fail to recognize the beginnings of addiction or be unable to stop it. Substance abuse can become a crutch that props up a life that you’re unhappy with. Stress or loneliness can also fuel drug addiction to make it more appealing.
People with unhealthy diets and lifestyles may also become addicted more quickly. When your body is not healthy, the cocktail of chemicals you produce will be unbalanced. Unbalanced chemicals in your system can lead to mental health conditions that foster substance abuse.
Any known mental illness is a big concern for drug addiction. The person may have some underlying illnesses, such as an addictive personality or depression, that can fuel substance abuse. A mentally ill person may also not realize that they are going further and further into their addiction.
Addicted to a Substance Previously
Unfortunately, using drugs rewires your brain. These materials work by activating the reward centers in your brain and triggering them at a higher level than you would normally experience in daily life. But when you do this, your brain becomes more tolerant to stimulation in the reward center. If you are a previous drug or alcohol abuser, your reward center is already wired to crave intense stimulation; starting to use a new substance is a recipe for quick addiction.
Alcoholism is a good predictor of a person who will become addicted to a new substance quickly. Often, alcoholics already have an addictive personality that feeds well into substance addiction.
Pressure from other people can also affect how quickly a person becomes addicted to a substance. On their own, they may have only tried it once and been fine. But with pressure to repeatedly use the substances, it becomes more likely that the body will start to become addicted.
The best scenario is to avoid substance abuse altogether. Addiction can be a rapid process that’s hard to reverse once started. If you are in the beginning stages of addiction, it’s important to get help right away; don’t let the problem escalate into a full-blown and life-altering addiction.