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Are Your Kids at Risk for Addiction? A List of Addiction Risk Factors - Shyness, Poverty, Aggression...

Updated on December 4, 2008

Addiction - Are Your Kids at Risk?

While the disease of addiction (if it is in fact a disease) remains only partially understood and the process towards addiction is very individualized, researchers have none the less unearthed a number of social, genetic and environmental factors that seem to be associated with increased rates of addiction.

The following is a list of many of these risk factors to addiction. The more risk factors a child faces, the greater the likelihood that this child will experiment with substance use and abuse and put themselves at risk of addiction.

(These risk factors are in no way causal factors. They do not cause addiction, and many children who face high risk factors do not use or abuse drugs and alcohol).

Parents concerned about the possibility of drug and alcohol experimentation may want to think about limiting their children's exposure to environmental, familial and social risk factors, if possible.

Addiction Risk Factors


  • Permissive, neglectful or abusive parenting strategies
  • A lack of stability within the home or family
  • Witnessing drug use or abuse, or alcohol abuse within the home, or by family members
  • A family culture that condones regular intoxication or drug use
  • A lack of child-parent attachment or bonding


  • Living in a neighborhood with a high rate of drug or alcohol use and abuse
  • Associating with peers who use or abuse drugs or alcohol
  • Living in poverty
  • Having easy access to drugs or alcohol


  • Having a parent or close relative who battles addiction increases the risks


  • The co-occurrence of another mental health disorder increases the risk of addiction
  • Aggression, particularly early childhood aggression, is a big risk factor
  • Extreme shyness
  • A lack of self control
  • Lower than average social functioning is associated with an increased risk of addiction

There are some things you can't change, but if you see that your child exhibits or is exposed to many addiction risk factors, you may want to take steps to turn those risk factors into protective factors.

For example

  • If you live in an area of high drug use – move into an area of low drug use.
  • If you exhibit a permissive parenting style – get more involved in your children's lives
  • If you have an extended family culture that condones intoxication – limit your children's exposure to that aspect of your extended family.

(It's rarely easy…)

Remember too, that a risk factor is not a causal factor – and even a high exposure to risk factors does not mean that any one individual will experiment with substance use or abuse.

Do the best you can, and hope for the best.


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    • Ardie profile image

      Sondra 9 years ago from Neverland

      Good hub. Many people in my family condone excessive drinking and we even have some addicts in the family. I try as hard as possible to keep my kids away from that influence. So much so, that I won't even have an occasional drink.