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Why Are Some People More Vulnerable to Addiction than Others

Three pills and a needle against a black background

Addiction is a complicated disease that affects people of all ages, backgrounds, and ethnicities. Chances are, you may know someone struggling with drug or alcohol addiction.

It is hard to understand what causes some people to be more prone to addiction, but some people are generally more vulnerable than others.

Usually, several factors contribute to substance use or alcohol use disorder. These can include genetics, environmental stress, and personality traits.

While anyone at any time can become addicted to substances, some people are at a higher risk of developing the disease.

In this blog post, we will discuss answers to the questions “Can you be predisposed to addiction?” and “Why are some people addicts?” in further detail. Continue reading to learn more. 

Am I Prone to Addiction?

The short answer is maybe.

You have to consider various factors to understand the unique tie you may have between your lifestyle, genetics, and outside factors with addiction.

It is impossible to assume your complete risk of developing addiction, but certain groups of people are more susceptible. If you fall into any of these groups, your risk of addiction automatically increases.

Certain Groups Are More Vulnerable to Addiction

You may ask yourself, “Why are some people addicts while others don’t seem to have an issue with substance use?”

The answer is not cut and dry, but it is essential to understand that there are some fundamental contributing factors to addiction, such as home and family problems, mental health illness, friends or family who abuse drugs, and genetics. In addition, some groups are at higher risk for addiction.

Those at increased risk of developing addiction include Caucasians, people with high IQs, and those suffering from mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder, anxiety, or ADHD.

Below we touch on high-risk groups in more detail.

Young Men and Caucasians

Young people aged 18-24, especially young men, are likelier to abuse drugs. Also, Caucasians are more likely to abuse drugs compared to African Americans.

Children of Addicts

According to the National Institutes of Health, children of alcoholics and drug addicts are more likely to become addicted.

Children of parents who abuse are 45% to 79% more likely to use drugs when compared to the general population. This leads researchers to believe that there is a genetic link to addiction. However, the environment that the child grows up in may also be a factor.

People Suffering From Mental Health Problems

Individuals suffering from mental health issues such as depression, bipolar disorder, and ADHD are likelier to abuse substances.

According to, “[o]ne reason for this phenomenon is that a large percentage of individuals attempt to self-medicate with drugs and alcohol to numb the painful symptoms of their bipolar disorder.”

People With High IQs

Some of the most successful professions — doctors, lawyers, and investment bankers — are riddled with cocaine, hard drug abuse, and dependency. It is believed that stress drives high achievers to turn to drugs. Though there appears to be a strong correlation, doctors have been unable to determine a medical reason.

Several Factors Increase Your Vulnerability to Addiction

There are many contributing factors to alcohol and substance abuse and addiction.


As discussed earlier, genetics are a factor in addiction. However, the exact link between genetics and addiction is not known. While there is an incidence of children of addicts being addicted, the addiction isn’t necessarily being passed down in the family. Some doctors believe that there is some genetic factor that may cause some people to be more prone to drug and alcohol addiction.


Many people who work in stressful jobs, or have otherwise stressful lives, will find themselves turning to alcohol or drugs to relax at the end of the day. What often starts out as one drink or line of a substance can quickly become an addiction. The only way to resist this is by being mindful of your consumption of drugs and alcohol and not using it as a crutch to help deal with stress.

Peer Pressure and Experimentation

Young adults often place a lot of value on what people think about them. As a result, peer pressure can result in drug and alcohol experimentation. In addition, dependencies often form from a combination of age and peer pressure. Consequently, young adults are more likely to try new drugs and alcohol combinations.


Children brought up in homes with drug abuse or other types of chaos often turn to drugs or alcohol later in life. Whether the reason for this is a “normalization” of the addiction or it stems from a psychological issue is unknown.

Personalized Addiction Treatment in Utah

Addiction is a very complex disease, and it is difficult to point out specific reasons why some people are more vulnerable than others.

If you feel someone you love is at risk for developing an addiction, reach out to us to find out what you can do to help them begin the recovery process.

Our licensed therapists and counselors are skilled and compassionate professionals dedicated to providing individualized addiction care that meets you where you are.