Kreed Kleinkopf
October 1, 2019

Who Is More Likely to Do Drugs? Knowing the Risk Factors

Nearly everyone is exposed to drugs at some point in their life, whether it be at school, work, with friends, or something you seek out on your own.

One hot topic of debate has been whether we can predict who potential drug addicts are before they become addicted.

Methods of Predicting Drug Risk

Predicting drug addiction risk in an individual is extremely difficult. There are so many factors that vary from person to person that it makes it almost impossible to predict potential drug abuse problems accurately.

There are, however, some methods that are recognized by scientific and medical communities for having some merit to them.

Family History of Addiction

One of the best ways to determine potential drug addiction problems is by looking into family history. Drug addiction and drug abuse tendencies are generally generic to some extent. There are some very interesting studies which have been done on alcohol specifically. These studies show that you're much more likely to become an alcoholic if you have alcoholic relatives in the family.

This is especially true if the relationship between yourself and an alcoholic in your family is immediate. In these scenarios, it's imperative to stay far away from any addictive drugs or behaviors. Drugs can never become an addiction if you don’t try them in the first place.

Genetic Testing

Genetic testing is another great way to determine genetic drug risk factors. Genetic testing has been gaining traction in the past decade since it has become more and more affordable for the average person.

Genetic testing is as simple as spitting into a test tube, sealing it up, and mailing it to the lab you ordered it from. One great example is 23andMe. 23andMe has been doing DNA sequencing tests for many years now and has even been approved by the FDA to test for certain genetic risk factors.

By getting your DNA tested, you'll be able to look for common risk factors that are associated with drug abuse problems. As a bonus, there is tons of interesting health information in the report, including how your body reacts to substances such as alcohol.

Physical Factors

Specific differences in brain chemistry and bodily composition have been linked to higher risks of drug abuse. One study has shown that people with a lower amount of grey matter in their brain have a much higher risk of becoming addicted and staying addicted to drugs.

Ways to Increase Grey Matter in The Brain

Luckily, there are quite a few different methods that have been shown to increase grey matter in the brain. This could make all the difference if you or a loved one are at higher risk for other drug addiction risk factors.


Some recent Harvard studies have shown that meditation can increase grey matter in the brain. Meditation boasts many physical and mental health benefits and is an easy way to increase grey matter in the brain. [1]

Diet and Supplementation

Diet and supplements are a great way to increase grey matter in the brain. Certain studies have shown that foods like fish and nuts increase omega-3 fatty acids, leading to an increase of grey matter in the brain. It's important to consume fish or omega-3 fatty acids that are low in mercury, as mercury can have the opposite effect on grey matter. [2]


Exercise may seem like the cure to everything, and it's no different when it comes to increasing grey matter in the brain. Grey matter has been shown to exponentially increase with regular exercise and can even restore mental function in elderly patients who are sedentary. [3] Aerobic exercise is the most effective type of exercise at restoring or creating new grey matter in the brain; however, any type of exercise will help to create more grey matter.

Try Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting involves eating during a specific time period and fasting throughout the rest of the day. For example, you eat all of your calories for the day during a 3-hour window, then fast for the rest of the night and repeat the next day. Intermittent fasting is also a great way to increase overall health, leading to a lowered risk of drug-seeking behaviors. [4]

Practice and Learn New Concepts or Skills

The last way to increase grey matter on our list is by learning new skills. This is especially important for adults who are caught up in the daily 9-5 work schedule and don't regularly learn new things or practice new skills. Learning new skills increases the amount of grey matter in your brain, leading to a host of health benefits.

Factors That Affect Relapse and Addiction

Some of the factors that have been shown to increase the risk of relapse include:[5]

  • Stress
  • Trauma, especially unresolved childhood trauma
  • Mental health problems, especially depression
  • Lack of sleep

All of the factors in the list above have been shown to increase the risk of drug addiction relapse. Each of these factors compounds the next, leading to a spiral of out of control drug addiction. Correcting even one of these issues above can provide significant help for anyone seeking to be free from drug addiction.

Trauma, including unresolved childhood trauma, is one of the leading causes of drug relapse. Meeting with a therapist and starting on the path to resolving these traumas can often have powerful effects on breaking free from addiction.


Although there aren't any 100% accurate ways to predict the risk of drug addiction, there are some red flags and warning signs that friends, healthcare providers, and family members can become familiar with.

If you identify any of the red flags or signs discussed today, it's especially important to stay away from drugs altogether. It's often much harder for you to become drug-free than other people; however, it is always possible, so don't ever give up hope!






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