Words such as drug abuse, alcoholism, addicts and alike are words that easily brush passed us because these have become such common problems in our society. But research material has shown that children who learn about the risks of drug abuse from their family are 50% less likely to abuse drugs.  So the expression ‘knowledge is power’ may prove to be true when trying to decrease the number of drug users. This article will discuss how a person can become addicted to a substance and what some of the causes of drug addictions are.



Once a person becomes addicted to drugs, the function of his or her brain alters. When excessive amounts of prescription and recreational drugs are taken, the dopamine levels in a person’s brain begin to surge, triggering feelings of euphoria and intense pleasure. The longer the drug is taken, the shorter the feeling of euphoria lasts, which means that the person must consume more of the drug to get the same effects. The brain begins to crave the drug because of the physical sensation the drug provides, which is why it is so difficult for individuals to stop consuming drugs after becoming addicted. The change in a person’s brain function will eventually make it difficult for the person to make sound decisions and think clearly. Eventually, the addiction will affect virtually every aspect of the person’s life.


Causes of Drug addiction

Experimenting - It is not uncommon for addiction to stem from a person being curious and experimenting with drugs or alcohol. It is a scenario that often starts with a young person using alcohol or marijuana out of curiosity. While it seems harmless, adolescents that experiment with drugs and alcohol are more likely to develop substance use disorder according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.


Family History/Genetics - If you have a family history of drug addiction, you may have a genetic predisposition to develop an addiction to drugs or alcohol. It is stated that about 30% – 70% of a person’s risk for addiction is linked to the genes they are born with along with other social factors.


Prescription Drugs - There is a popular misconception that any medication prescribed by a doctor is safe. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. Doctors prescribe medications to alleviate symptoms of physical or mental health issues. However, many individuals are not properly educated on the risks that the medications may carry. Chronic pain is often managed through opioid medications, which are highly addictive. Dependent upon the amount used and other factors, someone may require a medical detox just to stop using opioids. Likewise, those suffering from anxiety and depression may be prescribed addictive medications to ease symptoms. Non-addictive medication and/or pain recovery services are often available.


Loneliness - Addiction can start when an individual feels lonely or is isolated from the friends and family. They turn to drugs and alcohol thinking that it will fill a void that they have been living with. People lacking positive daily interaction may choose to use substances to feel happy or content. Additionally, users begin to alienate themselves further if they fear being judged or that help is not available to them.


Peer pressure - Peer pressure usually applies to adolescents or young adults. The need to fit in, on some level, is built into each and every one of us. Some people may feel the need to participate in potentially harmful activities to do so. The pressure of being around others who are abusing drugs or alcohol can push someone to follow suit.


Drugs and alcohol can make you feel good - There is a popular quote in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous that states: “Men and women drink essentially because they like the effect produced by alcohol.” While this seems obvious, some people like the effect so much that they are unable to stop. It may be difficult to see the harm in something that makes you feel good.


Mental health disorders - Depression, anxiety, and PTSD can put individuals at higher risk of developing an addiction. Using substances to cope with difficult feelings may seem like an easier path for some. Though they may seem crippling at times, there is help available to anyone struggling with a mental health disorder. Non-narcotic medications are often available for most mental health disorders. It’s worth researching with a doctor to see if there is an alternative to addictive medications.


Recreation - Many people use drugs or alcohol socially with friends or to “unwind” after a long day. They often see substances as a way to relax or clear their minds. Recreational drug users are still at risk to become addicted if their use becomes more frequent or they use highly addictive substances.


Alcohol isn’t enough - For some, alcohol stops doing the trick. A few beers after work or having drinks with friends at a local bar just doesn’t have the same effect that it used to. Some individuals end up “chasing a buzz” that they were once able to attain with a few drinks. This can leave someone powerless over alcohol and unable to quit drinking.


Self-medicating - People struggling with any of a multitude of ailments may turn to drugs or alcohol to ease their pain. Mental health disorders and chronic pain leave some seeking solutions on their own. Alcohol or other substances can alleviate symptoms and seem like a short-term solution. However, people should look for manageable, long-term solutions under medical supervision to combat these issues.


Top Reasons Why Teens Abuse Substances

The above 10 reasons explain the general causes of drug addiction, however the five points listed below focuses on teen and the possible reasons why they would start using drug.


Stress - A recent study by the Partnership for a Drug-Free America showed that 73 percent of teens report the number-one reason for using drugs is to deal with the pressures and stress of school. Surprisingly, only 7 percent of parents believe that teens might use drugs to cope with stress, showing parents severely underestimate the impact of stress on their teens’ decision to use drugs.


Social Acceptance and/or Low Self-Esteem - A 2007 PATS Teens study reported 65 percent of teens say they use drugs to “feel cool.” Teens’ self-worth depends on the approval of others, and their desire for social acceptance can drive them to engage in destructive behaviors, even if they know it could harm them. The same study found that 65 percent of teens use drugs to “feel better about themselves.” Teens who have low self-esteem are more likely to seek acceptance from the wrong crowd by using drugs.


Self-Medication - The teen years are rough, and many teens who are unhappy don’t know how to find a healthy outlet for their frustration. These pent up emotions can take an emotional toll and can even lead to depression or anxiety. A 2009 study reported an estimated 70 percent of teens suffer from undiagnosed clinical depression at some point in their life. Many teens are unaware that they have an underlying mental or mood disorder that is causing them to use illegal or prescription drugs to self-medicate and cope with their symptoms.


Misinformation - Studies show that teens are widely misinformed about the dangers of drugs. Did you know that 40 percent of teens don’t perceive any major risk with trying heroin once or twice? While abuse of serious drugs is steadily declining among teens, their intentional abuse of prescription and over-the-counter medications remains a serious concern. Many teens, 41 percent to be exact, mistakenly believe that it’s safer to abuse a prescription drug than it is to use illegal drugs. Nearly 1 in 5 teens have already abused a prescription medication or prescription painkiller in order to get high or deal with stress.


Easy Access - One reason teens use drugs is simply because they’re easy to get. Nearly 50 percent of teens report that it’s easy for them to get marijuana; 17 percent say it’s easy to get meth; 14.4 percent say it’s easy to get heroin; and more than half of teens say that prescription drugs are easier to get than illegal drugs.


There are many reasons why people use drugs. Knowing the risk of using alcohol and other drugs is half the battle. When we educated ourselves about these issues, we are more likely to make better decisions in the future.


References: (Top 5 reasons teens use drugs)