Risk Factors Associated with Addiction and How to Get Help

Addiction can present itself in various forms, including substance addiction (substance abuse and/or dependency) or behavioral addiction, such as gambling or stealing. People can become more susceptible to addiction due to a major life change, which may include retirement, injury, or death of a loved one.

Having some form of an addiction is more common than many of us realize.

What’s important to know is you are not alone, and there are resources available for you to get the help you need.

Addiction Risk Factors and Avoidance Strategies

There is no single cause of addiction, but a combination of factors can increase someone’s risk. Also, a higher risk of addiction may stem from genetic and environmental factors.

If medications are needed for health reasons, knowing how to safely store and dispose of them is essential. Let’s say you’re taking a form of opioids following a surgical procedure. Those should be stored in original packaging and kept safe in a lockbox or secured cabinet – your medications should not be easily accessible for someone else. Keeping track of when and how much you consume will help you know the amount you should have left. And never share your medication.

Prescriptions pills may be a part of your daily life, but sometimes it can be overwhelming to manage your medications. Whether you’re overwhelmed or dealing with memory loss, these quick tips can help you manage this task.

Once you no longer need a medication, follow these techniques for safe disposal:

  • Check your medication’s packaging and dispose of accordingly.
  • Look into your community’s drug take-back program or local pharmacy. Local law enforcement agencies also have take-back programs. Locate a program here.
  • Some medications are safe to flush them down the toilet if a take-back program isn’t available. Check the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) “flush list” before flushing any medication(s).
    • If a take-back program isn’t available near you and your medication isn’t safe to flush, the FDA suggests throwing it away in a plastic bag with unpalatable substances (e.g., kitty litter, dirt, or used coffee grounds).

You can learn more about addiction prevention geared towards older people here (as well as getting connected to treatment options). Depending on insurance, treatment could be covered.

Most Common Addictions

Too much of anything can become counterproductive, especially when it involves substances. Those substances could be, but are not limited to:

  • Alcohol
  • Tobacco
  • Opioids
  • Amphetamines
  • Hallucinogens

Addiction does not always involve substance usage but could be repeated behavior. Examples of behaviors people may become addicted to are:

  • Eating/Drinking
  • Exercising
  • Sex
  • Seeking Pain
  • Shopping

Find an addiction recovery support center in Georgia if you need help. You can also call either the Georgia Council on Substance Abuse’s CARES Warm Line between 8:30 am – 11 pm at (844) 326-5400 or the Georgia Crisis & Access Line (GCAL) any time at (800) 715-4225.

Identifying Signs of Addiction

The following signs may be present if someone is dealing with addiction:

Behavioral Signs

  • Obsessive Thoughts and Actions
  • Lack of Self-Awareness
  • Loss of Control
  • Denial or Downplay towards Usage

Physical Signs

  • Sudden Weight Loss
  • Bloodshot Eyes
  • Enlarged or Small Pupils
  • Poor Physical Coordination
  • Slurred Speech

Psychological Signs

  • Anxiousness
  • Irritability
  • Changes in Personality or Attitude
  • Unexplainable Paranoia
  • Withdrawing from Family and Friends

If you or someone you know shows signs of addiction, it is urgent to seek professional help and treatment options. You can call or text the Georgia Council on Substance Abuse’s CARES Warm Line at (844) 326-5400 any day between 8:30 am – 11 pm, or chat with CARES online. Alternatively, call the Georgia Crisis & Access Line (GCAL) any time at (800) 715-4225 in either a crisis or to get help accessing support.

Contact empowerline at (404) 463-3333 for help finding addiction recovery services and resources near you.

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Looking for the latest guidance on the Covid-19 virus?

The CDC has created this video: “Covid019: What Older Adults Need to Know.”  You can also read CDC’s full list of pandemic-related recommendations.

If you are looking to connect with resources and services for older persons and individuals and disabilities in metro Atlanta, please contact us at or 404-463-3333.