Addiction & Causes

December 1, 2021

The risk factors for addiction include both genetics and lifestyle. Dr. Ashish Bhatt explains how the combination of influences and genetics can cause some to develop a substance use disorder earlier in life than others.


Hi, this is Dr. Bhatt with a moment from Straight Talk With The Doc. I want to take a few seconds here to speak a little bit about addiction and what causes addiction. What are the risk factors for addiction?

Many people who suffer with substance use disorders, they know that they’re addicted, they know that they have a problem, but often they don’t know why.

What caused them to have this issue? Many times, people look at their family members or they look at their early influences or people that they’ve been around early in their life. But, if we look at the statistics, genetics play a huge role.

50% of the predisposition risk factor for somebody developing an addiction is based on their genetics. Now, genetics does not mean inheritance, it actually just means the building blocks of us on a genetic level.

The other 50%, that entails everything else in our lives. So, risk factors for somebody developing a substance use disorder include genetics being the major part and then the rest of it being everything that happens in our lives; from the presence or absence of mental health conditions, the presence or absence of any physical conditions, the earlier someone starts to use, the environment that they’re living in or existing in, any traumas that they might have experienced.

And ultimately, if there’s a combination of these influences at any given time where one is vulnerable, well then that can ultimately end up with somebody developing a substance use disorder earlier in life.

So, when looking at addiction as a whole, not often do you have to just look at why somebody’s using at this moment but looking at the underlying causes and risk factors and having them being addressed is often the way out of that substance use problem.