Why Do People Abuse Drugs?
Addiction Is a Misunderstood Disease
Many people who have family members or friends who suffer from addiction don’t understand how or why it happened. Some people assume that a person with addiction lacks discipline, morals, or willpower. Many people believe that quitting substances is as easy as not picking up a pill or a glass.
Addiction isn’t a choice. It’s not easily controlled. As a complex disease that impacts every facet of life and changes the chemistry of the brain, addiction can be very difficult to overcome.
What Happens in the Brain When a Person Uses Drugs?
Your brain is wired to seek out pleasure. When it is properly functioning, the brain releases the “feel-good” chemical dopamine in response to pleasurable things like food, exercise, love, beauty, and sex. The brain remembers pleasurable experiences and seeks more of them. That’s just fine if the experiences are healthy.
But when a person uses drugs, the chemicals in the drugs are so powerful, and the response so euphoric, that any normal or healthy pleasure pales in comparison. The brain quickly learns that the greatest pleasure comes from drugs, and it creates strong physical cravings in the body to ensure it will get more of the drugs. As a result, a person continues to use the drug over and over again to keep feeling those sensations.
Tolerance & Addiction
Unfortunately, over time, the brain becomes so adapted to the presence of the substance that it requires more of it to feel the same pleasure. This is called tolerance. After tolerance develops, dependence quickly follows. At this point, the person is compelled to take drugs not to gain pleasure but to avoid pain.
Addiction occurs when a person compulsively engages in drug-seeking behavior. They may recognize the risks of continued use and want to stop, but the physical cravings are so strong that they must use or experience painful and dangerous withdrawal symptoms.
When a person uses drugs for a long time, the brain is impacted in multiple ways. Judgment, learning ability, memory, and decision-making are affected.
But Why Do People Use Drugs in the First Place?
The National Institute on Drug Abuse states that people often misuse drugs for one of these reasons:
- They want to self-medicate a mental health disorder. Drugs can seem to help with social anxiety, depression, and trauma.
- They want to feel good. Drugs often create a sense of euphoria, a high that creates intense pleasure. Some drugs have other effects as well. They may help a person have increased energy, provide a boost of self-confidence, or create intense relaxation.
- They are curious. Sometimes people start using drugs out of curiosity but then find themselves hooked before they have a chance to stop.
- They feel social pressure to use. Especially for teens and young adults, drug use often begins because of peer pressure or a desire to fit in.
- They want to do better. Some drugs, like stimulants, can give a person more energy to deal with pressures at home, work, or school.
Victory Is Ready to Help
If you are facing addiction right now, you may be unsure why you engage in frequent use. Or, you may just know it’s time to get help. Allow our team to provide that support to you. Don’t wait to get help for drug or alcohol addiction at Victory Addiction Recovery Center.
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