For family members and whose loved ones are struggling with addiction it can sometimes be difficult to understand how a person becomes addicted to these substances. It can be even harder to know what to do to help them once they have become addicted. With drug abuse becoming more common, it’s important to understand some of the reasons behind the problem to be better able to help those you love.
Perhaps one of the most common reasons that a person might start abusing drugs or alcohol is to help them overcome the feelings of suffering from mental illnesses, such as depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder. Taking drugs or drinking alcohol can temporarily relieve the pain associated with the suffering, helping a person feel more “normal” for a period of time.
Another common reason people start taking drugs or drinking alcohol is simply being exposed to it in their daily lives. When friends, family members, and others around them are participating in these activities it is easy to rationalize the activity as completely normal. When a person is younger it’s called peer pressure, but it can happen at any age.
Teens and young adults who abuse alcohol might start to do so out of sheer boredom. Since they are less likely during this time to have steady jobs, bills to pay, and other obligations, it’s a time when they might be inclined to try something that seems exciting.
In recent years some of the most commonly abused drugs are those prescribed by medical professionals—prescription drugs. The most popular are opioids, such as OxyContin® and Vicodin®; depressants, such as Valium® and Xanax®; and stimulants, such as Adderal® and Ritalin®. People often mistakenly believe that a drug prescribed by a doctor and legal to consume is safer than illicit drugs, so they engage in dangerous behaviors like mixing drugs and alcohol, or sharing drugs prescribed to others. Getting hooked on prescription drugs can also be unintentional, following a legitimate reason that they might be taking these drugs, such as chronic pain or a serious injury.
Drugs and alcohol are also commonly used to try and forget or overcome trauma from things that happened in the past, both physical and emotional. When other options—such as speaking with a psychologist—are not available or do not seem to help, a person might turn to substance abuse as a way to bury their painful memories.
A person doesn’t necessarily have to do drugs for a long period of time to become hooked. Since they overload pleasure sensors in the brain, it can be one of the highest highs a person ever feels, but can also be one of the lowest lows when they are not on the drugs. This cycle often leads to “chasing” the feeling you had that first time, and is extremely hard to overcome. If someone you know is addicted to these substances, there is help available through recovery programs in Utah.