People use drugs for several common reasons. Many begin using drugs recreationally or to experiment with altering their mental state. Unfortunately, many people experience negative consequences due to drug use, like addiction, legal issues, relationship problems, or mental illness. It is critical to understand the reasons why people use drugs to treat addiction and prevent drug abuse before it starts.
How Do Drugs Work?
Drugs work by hijacking your brain’s chemical reward system. When you use drugs, your brain releases chemicals that make you feel pleasure or “high.” Some drugs, like depressants, sedate you by slowing down bodily functions, making you feel relaxed. Stimulant drugs can activate your brain, making you feel productive and unstoppable.
These feelings are fleeting, and since your brain can’t regulate the influx of chemicals, you can feel a “crash” after your high. Every action is met with an equal and opposite reaction. The elated feelings from drug use are met with a crushing period of depletion. While you get a “reward” of feeling high, you also get the downside of a crash, leading to an addictive cycle of drug use.
Many people use drugs to get the reward while neglecting or not understanding the negative consequences of the crash. The brain’s chemical reward system can help you deal with emotional and physical pain. People using drugs are looking for a quick fix to access this reward system to deal with negative emotions and problems.
Understanding the Reasons Why People Use Drugs
Drug use can be a maladaptive solution to solving problems you don’t know how to deal with. When confronted with problems and stressors in life, you build coping skills to deal with these issues. Coping skills can be either healthy or unhealthy. When people use drugs excessively, they use drugs as an unhealthy coping skill.
Common Reasons Why People Use Drugs Include:
- Peer pressure
One of the most common reasons young people begin using drugs is to fit in with their peers. Teens are especially vulnerable to using drugs due to peer pressure compared to older adults, leading to addiction.
- Isolation and boredom
Feeling isolated or bored can be distressing for most people. When a person struggles to fit in or find meaningful activities for occupying their time, they might turn to drug use to fill this void in their lives.
- Physical pain
Many people who use opioid drugs began with prescription pain relievers. According to the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), “10.1 million people misused prescription opioids in the last year.” Misusing prescription drugs can lead to addiction and seeking illegal opioids, like heroin.
Drugs might be used as a maladaptive coping skill to deal with stress. Many people justify going to the bar or getting high after a long day of work or a conflict with a loved one. Using drugs or alcohol to deal with stress only masks the issues causing your stress and could be a way of avoiding uncomfortable feelings.
- Mental illness
Untreated mental illnesses can be a common reason for drug use. Depression and anxiety are among the most common mental illnesses associated with drug use. People with severe mental illnesses, like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, might use drugs to regulate emotions or numb themselves from experiencing hallucinations. Mental health issues can be treated with therapy, holistic approaches, healthy lifestyle choices, peer support, and psychiatric medications.
Grief can follow many life events leading to loss. While the death of a loved one is one of the most common causes of grief, you might also grieve following a breakup, moving from your hometown, or losing a meaningful job. These life events can cause uncomfortable feelings, which you might “numb out” with drug use.
Trauma can differ from one person to another. Some people experience trauma after a life-threatening event, like a car crash or a soldier in combat. Other people deal with adverse childhood experiences or unhealthy long-term romantic relationships. Trauma can cause your body to become over-reactive to everyday life, and some people might use drugs to calm these reactions.
- Family history of addiction
Some people might use drugs or alcohol when they grow up around parents or caregivers with an addiction. You might have learned to use substances as a maladaptive coping mechanism if the adults in your life dealt with their problems by using drugs and alcohol. These experiences can shape your beliefs to accept drugs as a solution to your problems as you grow up.
No matter the reason for using drugs, you can become addicted when you don’t develop healthy ways to solve these issues. Each reason might require a different treatment approach; however, understanding the reasons why you use drugs can help you find an effective treatment program for addiction.
Get Help For All The Reasons People Use Drugs In South Florida
People use drugs for various reasons, from self-medicating for a mental illness to dealing with tragic life events. Ambrosia Treatment Center of South Florida can help you with any underlying causes for drug use. Call us today or visit our admissions page to learn more.