A Look At The Reasons Why We Abuse Drugs And Alcohol
Many of us know the challenges and struggles that come along with drug and alcohol addiction. Whether it’s financial, emotional, psychological, physical — the damage that substance abuse can have on our lives can be devastating in more ways than one. No one wants to become an addict, let alone admit that they are well on the road to becoming one or realize that it’s time to seek help.
The truth is that no one wakes up one day and makes the conscious decision to potentially ruin their lives and become an addict. Becoming addicted to substances is rarely a choice and there are often complex things happening beneath the surface when trying to identify what went wrong.
Addiction can start out harmlessly enough until it snowballs to something beyond our control. And since it’s very unlikely that someone became an addict by their own free will, we’re left with so many questions as to why people still abuse drugs and alcohol.
Here’s a breakdown of some of the most common reasons we may turn to substance abuse.
1. To Feel Good
This is the most obvious, but sometimes the simplest answer is the best answer. Drugs and alcohol have some effect on our physical or mental state, and thus why drink to get drunk or smoke marijuana to get high.
Typically, these substances do something which triggers feelings of pleasure or reward in our brains which feels good. Provided a user hasn’t had an extremely negative experience with a substance, they may continue to recreating that sensation of feeling good and use the substance again.
2. To Feel Accepted
Human beings are highly social creatures, and they will always have an innate and subconscious desire to fit in with their fellow humans. During teenage and college years, this need to fit in is intensified as young adults yearn to establish their identity.Image via Pixabay
Substances are common among certain social circles and situations and decision making is heavily influenced by wanting to fit in. But feeling accepted is not exclusive to young adults as “peer pressure” can happen through all phases of life. When substance abuse is common in a social environment, the choice to abstain only becomes more difficult.
3. To Disconnect
Everyone develops their own method of coping which helps them accept stressors that life throws at us. Dealing with traumatic parts of life — failed relationships, feeling overworked, the loss of a loved one — can be extremely difficult for anyone.
But there are times that our weakened mental or emotional state can be too much to bear, and the only solution to get through it may be by using drugs or alcohol. Also known as self-medicating, some people abuse substances to simply disconnect from the world. Substances help to temporarily numb or ease the pain or provide them with a means of escape from their reality. This often leads to a perpetual cycle of substance without proper treatment.
4. To Perform Better
Drugs and alcohol are often thought of as a way to escape real life or provide a recreational outlet, but many addicts also turn to substances to help them perform better. The most common example of this includes athletes who use human growth hormones or steroids to reach physical gains over other athletes.
Another common example of this is young adults who use medication intended for those diagnosed with ADHD. Adderall and Ritalin have become synonymous with all-nighters or professional video game Esports athletes.
5. It’s Legal & Readily Available
When substances are readily available and there is almost no threat of legal punishment, it can be tempting to overdo it. For example, alcohol is perfectly legal but it’s also the single most abused substance in the U.S..Image via Pixabay
Opioid pills are common in the treatment of ongoing pain issues, and these are some of the most addictive substances on the planet. There’s an epidemic happening with these drugs, but many of these pills are obtained legally through physician provided prescriptions.
6. Undiagnosed Mental Health Issues
Countries all over the world are slowly coming to terms with the prevalence and impacts mental health issues are having on our society. While the stigma behind mental health treatment is starting to dissipate, the fact is that there are so many people throughout the world who may go their entire lives without a proper diagnosis for the mental health issues which plague them.
Even when a person has been properly been diagnosed, there’s no telling if they have the means to get the treatment they need. Left unchecked, a person with mental health problems may turn to substance abuse to get some kind of relief from daily life.
We tend to downplay the curious side of our mind, but curiosity can feed an obsession to try a drug or drink a certain amount of alcohol. This is more common in young adults, but this curious nature can lead to unintended consequences.
Curiosity also becomes one of the driving reasons behind finding a bigger, better high. Gateway drugs, like alcohol or marijuana, can start a user down a path of more substance abuse if they are constantly looking for the next substance they can abuse.
8. Rebellion & Ignorance
Continued and repeated abuse of a drug usually becomes less about personal choice, but the initial reason some takes a drug is most often their decision. In young adults, rebellion is part of who they are when trying to figure out the person they want to be. This means that they will abuse substances simply because it goes against what they’ve been told by authority figures in their life.
Despite knowing the negative effects drugs can have on their body, they simply choose to ignore everything and fail to accept the reality of the consequences that beset them.
9. Environmental Risk Factors
Image via Pixabay
Most of this ties back to a person’s overall mental health, but there are some risk factors beyond a person’s control which predispose them to substance abuse. This can include living in poverty or growing up in an abusive household. In these cases, the road to treatment can be long and difficult without the right treatment.
This another instance where the why behind the substance abuse is a never-ending cycle and hard to get over.
How To Move Forward
Addiction is one of the most difficult things a person can try to tackle, particularly if they are trying to do it alone. Substance abuse has no simple solution, but understanding the reasons why we drink or take drugs is a helpful step towards recovery.
Are you or a loved one struggling with addiction, lying to yourself and others? Don’t wait any longer to ask for help. In today’s environment, you never know when your next dose will be your last!
Our Neuro Rehabilitation approach helps address the root causes of addiction once and for all.