Substance Abuse

Why do people use alcohol and drugs?

Why do people use alcohol and drugs?

Because many drugs act on the brain’s pleasure pathways, the user experiences intense euphoria followed by related emotional highs. Cocaine, for example, induces feelings of empowerment, confidence, high self-esteem and increased energy. People might chase these perceived emotional benefits for a variety of reasons, including:

  • Social: People use alcohol and drugs often as a way to fit in with a particular group or to feel more at ease in a social setting,
  • Stress: Substance abuse may be a means to escape problems or a way to reduce stress. The role of stress in beginning drug use, continuing drug abuse, or relapse in recovering patients should be addressed and approached holistically.
  • Psychological triggers: People suffering from anxiety disorders, trauma, depression or other psychological illnesses may begin using alcohol and drugs to reduce or numb personal distress. Individuals with alcohol or drug dependence are nearly twice as likely to have a co-occurring psychological disorder.
  • Peer pressure: Some people, especially teenagers and adolescents, are vulnerable to group pressure or the rationale that “everyone is doing it.”

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