Why Are People Drawn to Abuse Drugs?

Why Are People Drawn to Abuse Drugs?

Social pressure, genetic heritage and mental and physical health issues are all factors that can influence people to begin abusing drugs

Media portrayals of and stigmas surrounding addicts contribute to an addiction stereotype disconnected from the realities of modern drug abuse. Heroin and meth addicts might make for interesting news segments and movie characters, but the 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) shows that people abusing prescription painkillers like oxycodone exceed the combined number of heroin, cocaine, hallucinogen and inhalant users by twenty percent. Likewise, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) in 2014 highlighted a statistical spike in drug use for people over 50, which the agency attributed to aging baby boomers. In today’s drug culture, the addict is more likely to be a neighbor, loved one or colleague than some embodiment of a media stereotype. Just as the face of addiction expanded, so did the motivations for use.

Medicating Drug Abuse

The vast majority of clinical studies on the subject of addiction found a higher prevalence of co-occurring addiction and mental health disorders. These issues and others can motivate self-medicating use, including the following:

  • Legitimate medical use that unintentionally turned into an addictive habit
  • Sedatives and marijuana to reduce anxiety, insomnia, stress and agitation
  • Stimulants and crystal meth to overcome lethargy, hangovers and depression
  • Painkillers, opium and heroin to deal with emotional or physical pain
  • Self-image issues that drug abuse helps numb or jolts with false confidence

In the short term, drug abuse might mask a disorder’s symptoms, but as addiction develops, the symptoms typically return in force with additional addiction-related problems.

Social and Family Influences

Social factors can also motivate drug use. Outwardly condemning a person for abstinence is less common these days, but social pressure can drive drug use in various other ways, including the following:

  • An attempt to fit in or stand out in a social circle or environment
  • Media and celebrity portrayals that associate drug use with popularity
  • Stimulant use to improve performance and potentially elevate social status
  • Painkiller or sedative use to reduce shyness and social anxiety
  • Drug abuse as a learned behavior from watching respected friends

For some, the drug draw might be curiosity or simple enjoyment, and for young people, drugs might be cheaper and more accessible than alcohol. Furthermore, genetic heritage can increase the appeal and effects of drug abuse, and growing up in a substance-abusing household typically fosters additional drug-use vulnerabilities.

From Drug Abuse to Addiction

While motivations for drug abuse might fall into general categories, most people start taking drugs for varied personal reasons, and a multitude of factors often play a role in initiating and accelerating the abuse. Likewise, not everyone who abuses drugs becomes an addict, though extended use often makes addiction inevitable. Environmental and genetic factors influence its development, but addiction occurs as the drug abuse triggers changes in neural chemistry, circuitry and transmissions. The impact can include drug side effects, accelerated mental health disorders, distorted perception, impaired cognitive skills, obsessive thoughts, compulsive behavior, intense cravings and extreme mood swings.

Drug Abuse and Addiction Help

Professional rehabilitation is the most effective way to treat addiction and stop drug abuse. Treatment centers can help restore neurobiological health, improve positive life skills and propose healthier ways to handle impulses, pain, insomnia, anxiety, depression, poor self-image and any other issue that made the drug abuse seem more appealing.

If you or a loved one is struggling with oxycodone addiction and have questions about drug abuse or treatment, our admissions coordinators can help anytime 24 hours a day. We can provide information and recommendations, and if rehab treatment is necessary, we can check health insurance plans for coverage. Please call our toll-free helpline now.