Why do people abuse drugs and alcohol?

To feel good

Most abused drugs produce intense feelings of pleasure. This initial sensation of euphoria is followed by other effects, which differ from the type of drug used. For example, with stimulants such as cocaine, the “high” is followed by feelings of power, self-confidence, and increased energy. In contrast, the euphoria caused by opiates such as heroin is followed by feelings of relaxation and satisfaction.

To feel better

Some people who suffer from social anxiety, stress-related disorders, and depression begin abusing drugs in an attempt to lessen feelings of distress. Stress can play a major role in beginning drug use, continuing drug abuse, or relapse in patients recovering from addiction.

To do better

The increasing pressure that some individuals feel to chemically enhance or improve their athletic or cognitive performance can similarly play a role in initial experimentation and continued drug abuse.

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Curiosity and “because others are doing it.”

In this respect adolescents are particularly vulnerable because of the strong influence of peer pressure; they are more likely, for example, to engage in “thrilling” and “daring” behaviors.

To combat insecurity

Feeling of not being “good enough” to meet the challenge of a situation you face in the face of problems, conflict, or concerns. Feeling inadequate or incompetent to handle life’s challenges and being “outed”. Fear of being discovered as inadequate, ill-fitted, or unsuited to meet responsibilities at home, school, or on the job.

– Sense of not fitting in, being “out of synch” with those in your peer group.
– The perception that life is unpredictable with most of the expectations you have to meet not clearly understood.
– Sense of always climbing up a mountain, never being able to reach the top.
– Sense of lacking support or reinforcement where you live, work or play.
– Results from a sense of being unaccepted, disapproved, or rejected.
– Inner turmoil coming from a lack of direction or bewilderment as to where you are going, what your goals are, and what responses are appropriate for events in life.

At first, people may perceive what seem to be positive effects on drug use. They also may believe that they can control their use; however, drugs can quickly take over their lives. Consider how a social drinker can become intoxicated, put himself behind a wheel and quickly turn a pleasurable activity into a tragedy for him and others.

Over time, if drug use continues, pleasurable activities become less pleasurable, and drug abuse becomes necessary for abusers to simply feel “normal.” Drug abusers reach a point where they seek and take drugs, despite the tremendous problems caused for themselves and their loved ones. Some individuals may start to feel the need to take higher or more frequent doses, even in the early stages of their drug use.

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