People turn to drug and alcohol use for various reasons. Some use it for social glorification, peer pressure, to self-medicate after grieving a loss, to reduce stress, for thrill-seeking, or simply out of boredom.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse “The Science of Drug Use: A Resource for the Justice Sector” says:
People use drugs for many reasons: they want to feel good, stop feeling bad, or perform better in school or at work, or they are curious because others are doing it and they want to fit in. The last reason is very common among teens. Drugs excite the parts of the brain that make you feel good. But after you take a drug for a while, the feel-good parts of your brain get used to it. Then you need to take more of the drug to get the same good feeling. Soon, your brain and body must have the drug just to feel normal. (NIDA)
Knowing why people start using is the best way to keep substance abuse issues from growing out of control and developing into addictions.
Why Do People Drink Alcohol?
Alcohol is one of the most commonly abused substances in the United States. According to a 2019 survey by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), 85.6 percent of people 18 and older have reported drinking alcohol at some point in their life. It is legal, so it’s easily accessible, and it is also generally socially acceptable.
People drink alcohol for different reasons. Some people will have a drink or two on special occasions and limit their drinking to that. Others may have added stress in their lives and drink to reduce the stress. Then some individuals may start drinking socially and quickly learn that it numbs their emotions, so they will continue to drink as a way of self-medicating. The same goes for drugs.
Why Do People Use Drugs?
Many people will suffer an injury or have surgery at some point in their lives and get prescribed an opioid pain medication short-term. Like alcohol, some can take the medication only as needed and stop taking it once the pain has subsided. Then some may have added stress, depression, or anxiety in their lives and realize that the opioids make them happy, that they take away all of the mental and emotional pain and relieve their stress too, so they keep taking them. They will take the opioids much longer than necessary as a means of self-medicating.
People may try other drugs in a social setting because they feel pressured by their peers or are bored. Like with alcohol, some can try a substance once and never pick it up again, while others can’t. For many addicts, what started as social use, peer pressure, or experimentation quickly turns into an addiction. Drugs and alcohol make us feel good. As a result, many addiction issues continue using it to self-medicate to avoid emotional issues.
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