Episode II: Whirlpools of Risk


Not everyone who uses alcohol or drugs develops a substance use disorder (SUD)—why is that?

People have different risk factors that make them more vulnerable to developing SUDs that are entirely unique to them. These can be environmentalsuch as poverty or exposure to traumaor individualsuch as genetics or the age of first use.1

The escalation from first use of a substance to developing a SUD follows a pathway that begins with initiation and progresses to regular useproblem and risky useto SUD and addiction.   

But not everyone goes down the full path.2 Drug and alcohol use can escalate to a disorder rapidly or slowly based on a person’s risk factors, as well as the risk of the substances they are using.

Over 70% of heroin users will develop a heroin use disorder.

56% of tobacco users.

9% of  alcohol users.

11% of marijuana users.

51% of methamphetamine users.

When multiple substances are used at the same time, the risks get even higher.3

Understanding personal risk factors as well as the risk of specific substances is critical to empowering people to prevent drug and alcohol use from progressing toward SUD and addiction.

20180828_OnePagers_AddictionSeries_version9_whirlpools of risk  20180828_OnePagers_AddictionSeries_version9_BW_whirlpools of risk


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