Factors Contributing to Abuse and Addiction

Reasons for excessive drinking and illegal drug use are as diverse as college students themselves. Addiction can result from a number of problems including: fitting in; socializing; relaxing; handling stress; financial concerns; coping with responsibilities; academic responsibilities; family expectations; loneliness; sadness; mental health conditions; such as sexually transmitted diseases; anxiety; depression and eating disorders.

Many scientists and health professionals, including Dr. Eric J. Nestler, Professor and Chair of The Mount Sinai Medical Center, believe a leading precursor to addiction is biological such as: genetics, gender and mental disorders. Other major non-biological factors are environmental such as: a disruptive home where abuse occurs; parental attitudes toward use are approving or noncommittal; peer influence to use is strong; community resources are poor, and school system is weak.

Combining one or many of these factors may lead to early use. While substance abuse does not lead to addiction in all, it does open the door for addiction to occur. Once use starts, easy access and low cost can determine the frequency at which abuse occurs. The route of administration and the effect of the drug on the individual can then lead to certain brain mechanisms which can contribute to addiction.

Further information to provide a better understanding the contributing factors of substance abuse and addiction:

Causes of Substance Abuse and Dependence
Prescription Drug Abuse Among College Students
Depression and Anxiety Among College Students
Risk Factor Leading to Addiction
Addictive Behaviors Amongst College Students

Addiction Prevention

Ideally, the best prevention to addiction is to never start using drugs or alcohol; but what if you have been experimenting with or abusing one or more substances? Learning the warning signs of addiction and implementing a program of total self-wellness are important areas to consider in preventing abuse and addiction.

The warning signs of a substance abuse problem or addiction are many, according to Columbia University Health Library; one or all of the following may be present.

  • Do you drink or use drugs when you are stressed?
  • Do you look forward to or create reasons to get drunk or high?
  • Is there a history of addiction in your family?
  • Do you feel you have to be intoxicated to have a good time?
  • Do you ever black out after a night of partying?
  • Have you put yourself in dangerous situations because of your use?
  • Are friends and families concerned about your partying?
  • Are your grades and job affected by your drinking or drug use?
  • Do you drink or use alone?
  • Do you wake up with a hangover and feel guilty and paranoid?
  • Have you developed two or more of the following symptoms within several days of not drinking-sweating, hand tremors, rapid heartbeat, insomnia, nausea, agitation and anxiety?

It is recommended if you answered “yes” to two or more of the above questions you should seek professional help.

Other signs to be aware of that you or a friend may have a problem include:

  • Avoidance of friends and family
  • Feelings of guilt about use
  • Hiding or denying use
  • Legal problems as a result of use
  • Needing increasing amounts of a substance to get a similar effect

A balance needs to be achieved, as one area neglected will affect another area accordingly. Additional information on health and wellness programs:

Substance Abuse and Addiction Self-Evaluation
College Health and Safety
How Casual Drug Use Leads to Addiction
Rethinking Drinking
Drugs and Your College Experience
Alcohol and Drug Abuse on College Campuses
Substance Abuse and Victimization
Living the College Life: Should I Try Pot or Other Drugs
The Effects of Drugs and Alcohol on Academic Life
The Bacchus Network