Leading researchers in the field of addiction estimate between 40-60% of a person’s likelihood of becoming addicted to either drugs and/or alcohol lies between genetic and environmental factors. The effects of environmental factors enhance the functions of a person’s genes, increasing the individual’s chance of becoming addicted to any substance.
Adolescents and people with mental disorders are at much greater risk of drug abuse because their brain is in developmental stages. As their brain undergoes dramatic changes, the part of the brain that enables us to make formative decisions, moderate social behavior, and allows expression of the personality, also known as the prefrontal cortex, is maturing over an extended period.
During this process, the adolescent’s decisions influence the growth rate and ultimately long-lasting consequences of the brain’s development. Addiction is a developmental disease that often starts out as voluntary, but can soon lead to a full-blown, overpowering, seemingly helpless condition.
Drug addiction is a preventable disease that begins with education. Knowledge about family history of drug addiction or alcoholism is an essential component in education in the early years of development. Programs in school settings that include family, educators, communities, and the media to discuss youth trends, the harmful repercussions of drug abuse, and outreach to those who are affected.