Treatment professionals are waiting for your call:

Calls will be forwarded to these treatment providers

Treatment professionals are waiting for your call:
Calls will be forwarded to these treatment providers
(256) 670-2237

Treatment professionals are waiting for your call

(207) 521-9715

Our content is reader supported, we may receive a small Commission when you click links in our articles. Learn more.

How Do You Become Addicted to Drugs?

Teens and adults become addicted to drugs each year across the US. Most users start with modest doses, which lose their effect as tolerance kicks in. To get the same effect as before, people take higher and higher doses. Before long, the user thinks non-stop about drugs and goes into withdrawal when there’s no supply. That’s an addiction.

Get Help Today

Don't go through the process of recovery alone. There are people who can help you with the struggle you're facing. Get in touch with one today.

Make a Call

What Makes People Abuse Drugs?

Numerous factors play into addictive behavior. It usually stems from youth. If a person sees drug use as normal at home, school and in society at large, he/she won’t have much resistance to those who push drugs.

  • Family history – Parents who use drugs are much more likely to have children who use drugs. Kids pick up on the habit by watching their parents. If a parent is short-tempered and lacks coping skills outside of drugs, the offspring might see drugs as the only answer to life’s problems.
  • Mental-health problems – Drug abuse often correlates to mental-health problems. People who struggle with anxiety, depression, paranoia, misanthropy and body dysmorphia often resort to drugs to mask the pain, confusion and sense of futility. Drugs often feed into a user’s mental health issues and make the problem worse.
  • Prenatal exposure – Babies sometimes get exposed to drugs in the womb. When an expecting mother abuses drugs despite her pregnancy, this passes addictive tendencies onto the fetus. The child might go 15-18 years without knowing about drugs or discovering this weakness, but once exposed to drugs could have an overwhelming predisposition for abuse.
  • Neglect – Teenagers who aren’t well supervised are more likely to get involved with peers who use drugs. People learn about drugs from their environment. When kids get the message that drugs are normal and they’re not taught the dangers, they could view drug use as a healthy, acceptable pastime.
  • Peer pressure – Teenagers often get lured by the trendiness of drugs among their peer group. If it’s something that all the “cool” kids do, the kids who gravitate toward that group are more likely to take that first hit and get hooked. Even teens who know better sometimes get enticed by the trendiness or “naughty” factor.
  • Early use – People who use drugs early in life are more likely to be longtime drug users. Developing minds are more susceptible to addictive substances. Drugs alter the brain’s chemistry and this is especially powerful in the minds of young people who haven’t  mastered adult coping skills. Kids who start early are some of the hardest rehab cases.
  • Easy access – If people have easy, unrestrained access to drugs and alcohol, they’re more likely to fool around with drugs and not see the consequences. People who live in neighborhoods where drugs are sold on every corner often see addiction as an inevitable part of life. Partygoers in drug-crazed scenes typically become users themselves or stop attending.
  • Starting on a highly addictive drug – People who take strong hits on their first time out often get hooked immediately. For some users, it means they had a low tolerance threshold. Some of the most addictive drugs (heroin, fentanyl) claim first-time casualties in overdose cases that involve alcohol and/or multi-drug combinations.

Drug addiction is not inevitable for children of drug-crazed homes, schools and communities. However, it takes strong willpower and keen knowledge of right and wrong regarding drug abuse and addiction to break the mold and lead a sober life.

Why Do People Take Drugs?

People take drugs for their related effects as stimulants, relaxants, pain-relievers and sensory enhancers. Some people experiment with illicit drugs (cocaine, LSD) but don’t get hooked and never use them again. Others get hooked quickly, sometimes after one use.  

  • Euphoria – For a lot of people, the biggest temptation of depressants like heroin and fentanyl is the euphoric sensations attributed to such drugs. People get hooked on drugs that alter the brain’s reward center and the transmission of pleasure signals throughout the body. Once experienced, it’s a hard habit to break.
  • Energy – At parties, a lot of people take drugs like cocaine for its reputed energy effects. As a stimulant, cocaine helps people stay up late and partake more fervently in the all-night party atmosphere. Drugs like crack and meth are also widely used for their stimulant effects.
  • Hallucinations – Some people take drugs for an extraordinary visual and auditory experience. Hallucinogens like LSD enhance people’s sense of sight and sound. Acid, as it’s colloquially known, enhances light and color and makes still objects and surfaces appear to move like waves. LSD’s reputed effects are often tempting to young partygoers.
  • Numbness – Some users take drugs for the feelings they send throughout the body. People who struggle with anxiety and live stressful lives often turn to drugs that make them feel numb as if nothing matters. People with pending legal and financial troubles often take drugs to make their cares go away for hours at a time.
  • Pain relief – Some people take drugs for their aesthetic qualities. Depressants (heroin, fentanyl) cause an overall numbness that helps users forget about body pain. People who struggle with body pain often get hooked on depressants. Once tolerance takes hold, the user must over-take the drug at dangerous levels to get the same effects.
  • Mood – Drugs can also enhance or calm the mood, depending on the drug and the user’s desired outcome. Energy drugs give certain users a sense of overjoy, even in stressful and unhappy situations. Depressant drugs make people feel mellow and carefree, even when they’re normally high-strung.
  • Distraction – Some people resort to drugs to distract themselves from the goings on in society. Younger users often wish for something “trippy” and “out of this Earth.” Others want something that will make all their worries go away. People who’ve hit rock bottom use drugs to distract their minds from the direness of their situation. 
  • Escapism – Drugs help certain people drift away and not care about the outside world. A drug might help the user exit his/her physical reality and escape to a realm beyond the current world and all its strife and politics. The high could help that user mentally escape from imminent problems such as poverty, joblessness and possible homelessness.

Some people experiment with drugs out of curiosity and underestimate the addictive power of cocaine and heroin. They think they’ll just sample the drug, but then they take another hit… and another… and another… and before they know it, they’re addicted.

Traits of Learned Drug Use

Most people are products of their environment, which explains why most drug users come from drug-addled families and communities. Addiction typically goes hand-in-hand with mental health issues and negative personality traits, such as:

  • Distorted reasoning – Drug users often invent phony reasons to justify their habits. Some users feel guilty because they know that drugs are bad yet also tell themselves that it’s “just a phase.” Other users think that drug addiction is inevitable for people in their scene or community and insist that there’s “no way out.”
  • Distrustfulness – People steeped in drug addiction often distrust people who aren’t in their immediate drug circle. They fear that outsiders might judge them, get them fired or report them to law enforcement. Some users break ties with dear family members. As their antisocial habits get worse, some users distrust each other.
  • Suppressed emotions – Many people use drugs to bury feelings of sadness, regret, fear, guilt and shame. Stimulants make people feel overjoyed and manic (excessively happy, even in inappropriate situations). Downers make people feel mellow. Both offer easy (albeit costly, brief, unhealthy and dangerous) ways out of daily unhappiness.
  • Depression – For most users, drug addiction is part of a depressive continuum. The user feels desperate and hopeless in his/her situation and takes drugs to alleviate the unhappiness. Once the high wears off, a crash occurs and the depression hits harder. The user takes another hit to escape once more (and on and on).
  • Withdrawal symptoms – This occurs whether or not the user enters detox. Users cut off from drug supplies typically suffer emotional and physical stress. If a user wants drugs and doesn’t get them, he/she might get shaky, volatile, paranoid and enraged. The first few days off a favored drug can be unbearable unless he/she submits to supervised detox.
  • Hypervigilance – Drug addiction often makes users overly suspicious of those around them. When someone stares, the user might think that person is a narc or undercover policeman. Users who experience ongoing hallucinations and suffer paranoia might think some random person in public is personally out to get them.
  • Lack of restraint – Addiction often starts with a lack of restraint on the user’s part. The person won’t hold back despite knowing that drugs aren’t healthy or legal. In some cases, the person thinks it will only be a one-time hit but fails to resist subsequent temptations. Once addiction takes hold, the user takes higher and higher doses.

Drug addiction is a chemical dependency that is classifiable as a mental illness because drugs corrupt the brain’s reward center. However, learned traits can impact a person’s willingness to seek treatment. A person from a drug-free background and environment is more likely to listen to advice and seek help than a person who has been surrounded by drugs since childhood. 

Complications of Drug Addiction

People who do drugs limit themselves on multiple levels, often without even realizing it. Addiction can isolate users from loved ones, diminish their productivity and work prospects and lead to poverty, homelessness and imprisonment.

  • Family trouble – Drugs often drive families apart. Addiction alienates children from parents, parents from children and siblings from one another. Even in homes where drug use is learned, addicted parents often act shocked and disappointed when their kids pick up the habit.
  • Work problems – Drugs also get users into trouble at work. Drug abuse often leads to underperformance on the job. An employer might notice the slack and issue a pink slip or worse. In some cases, the employer finds out about the drug use or a fellow employee snitches.
  • Health issues – Drugs wreak havoc on the user’s mental and physical health. As addiction gets more severe and the user verges on an overdose, stimulants and depressants take their toll on the heart and respiratory system. Drugs can cause heart attacks and strokes.
  • Risky behavior – People steeped in drug addiction often engage in risky behavior. No one should ever drive or handle a gun when intoxicated, yet people often do because judgment is often clouded when under the influence. Some people get belligerent and pick fights while intoxicated. Others engage in unprotected sex while high.
  • Accidents – Dangerous stunts often have disastrous and deadly results. When a drugged-out driver crashes a vehicle, there could be casualties, injuries and untold damages. If a user dives off a bridge or climbs up a tree while high, he could wake up in a hospital, possibly paralyzed. 
  • Wasted talent – As people fall further into drug addiction, they squander their talent, productivity and potential. Dreams fade to nothing as they waste precious time in constant states of intoxication and catatonia. Days turn into months and eventually years with nothing accomplished, all while their physical and mental health deteriorates.
  • Legal trouble – Drug abuse can get people into all sorts of legal trouble. People get fined and imprisoned for possession. In some jurisdictions, offenders get locked up for decades, especially those who traffic drugs. Users, seeking that next fix, are more likely to commit petty thefts and violent crimes while intoxicated.
  • Financial ruin – Drug addiction is a costly habit that drains finances and sends users into debt, poverty and foreclosure. Many users spend their disposable incomes on drugs and max out their credit cards on food and clothing. Once they lose everything, they lean on drugs harder to cope with destitution.

As addiction takes hold, the user typically denies the problem. If confronted, the user might change the topic or avoid the conversation. However, when the signs, symptoms and evidence point to drug abuse despite the avoidance and denial, it’s time to get help.

Get Help for Drug Addiction

Get Help Today

Don't go through the process of recovery alone. There are people who can help you with the struggle you're facing. Get in touch with one today.

Make a Call

If someone you know and care about is addicted to drugs, get that person the help he/she needs. Across the US, rehab treatment centers offer inpatient and outpatient programs for people struggling with drug and alcohol addiction. Call the treatment centers in your area and ask about their programs and financing options. Act now before it’s too late.

Prev Post
Domestic Abuse, Violence and Drug/Alcohol Addiction
Next Post
How Do You Develop a Behavioral Addiction?

Add Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.