Several environmental factors can contribute to addiction. Children who were raised by drug addicted or alcoholic parents are more likely to develop addictions themselves. Children who were raised in abusive environments are also more likely to develop addictions as a way to cope with negative emotions surrounding the abuse. Individuals who live in poor or economically depressed areas often develop addictions, and teens who experience peer pressure in their social environments often succumb to the temptation to use drugs or abuse alcohol.
Both genetic and environmental factors have to be considered when reviewing the basic causes of drug addiction and alcoholism. The environment which surrounds the individual, especially during the very critical formative years, can influence the likelihood of whether or not an addiction will be developed later on in life.
The official definition of Alcohol Addiction by The U.S. National Council on Alcohol and Drug Dependence is: “Alcoholism is a primary, chronic disease with genetic, psychological, and environmental factors influencing its development and manifestations. The disease is often progressive and fatal. It is characterized by impaired control over drinking, preoccupation with the drug alcohol, use of alcohol despite adverse consequences, and distortion in thinking, most notably denial.”
One in every 13 Americans is considered to be a victim of alcoholism. This only includes the individuals who are already alcoholic, where only intensive therapy in a rehabilitation center would be enough to restore them as a normally functioning member of their families, occupations and societies.
There are tens of millions more people in the United States alone who engage in excessive drinking behaviors and are on the way to becoming full blown alcoholics. It is impossible for anyone to change their genetic makeup, regardless of whether or not there is a vulnerability to cancers, cholesterol or alcoholism in the family genes; it is simply not possible to delete that factor from our own genetic material. It is important to realize that the environmental factors can be managed and positive choices can be made when faced with the possibility of continued alcoholism or drug addiction.
Silence is the enemy of recovery. It is important for family, co-workers, friends and anyone associated with the drug addict or alcoholic to discuss the situation with the alcoholic or drug addict, particularly at times of sobriety. It is important that the alcoholic or drug addict is exposed to the fatal nature of their situation. Medical information, family information or general information about addiction and the devastation it can cause should not be ignored by anyone. There are many specific, local and national organizations that are immediately accessible to the person, friend or family member that suffers with drug addiction or alcoholism.