Why do people drink or take drugs?

Questions as to why people take drugs or drink are both easy and hard to answer -- easy because there are many possible reasons, but hard to come up with a comprehensive list. The answers might also depend on the person, the situation, and the substance that is being used.

Why do people start doing drugs? Adolescents or teenagers might try drinking or using drugs to feel grown up, particularly if they have been raised to believe that these are things that adults do. They might do drugs because it's expected of them, if their friends are doing drugs. Peer pressure can be a strong incentive. Other kids are attracted to dry alcohol or drugs because it's what their parents don't want them to do. Rebellion can also be an incentive. They might try drugs simply out of curiosity, or to relieve boredom. Many people try drugs or do drugs occassionally during their teen years, but leave it behind as they take on the responsibilities of adulthood.

However, others are seemingly born into drug use and addiction. Of course, this doesn't mean that they have no choice in the matter, or that everyone born to parents who are compulsive users are going to use. Nevertheless, children of active alcoholics are more likely to drink than those whose parents are not drinkers, and those who drink are more likely to drink compulsively.

With a family history of alcoholism, the children of active alcoholics may try their first drink for some of the same reasons as any other adolescent or teenager, but they are more likely to do so because this is the behavior that was modeled to them by the parents, and the risk of progressing to alcoholism is greater.

Adults might decide to drink or to use for some of the same reasons. It is common to associate peer pressure with children and teenagers, but adults are often subjected to similar peer pressure from friends, co-workers, and even family members.

Adults are sometimes introduced to opiates or opioids by their doctors as a prescription for pain relief, and many these patients become addicted to prescription medications.

Some people drink or take drugs in order to feel good. Most abusable drugs produce intense feelings of pleasure, and the initial sensation of euphoria is followed by other effects that may be pleasurable. Depending on the type of drug, sometimes there are feelings of self-confidence, power, or increased energy, while other drugs may produce feelings of relaxation and satisfaction. In their addiction, many people have said that they continued to seek that original high.

People who suffer from social anxiety, stress, or depression might take drugs in order to self-medicate. Sometimes, it is an attempt to lessen negative feelings brought about by something else. Stress often plays a role in beginning drug use, continuing use, and and even relapse in patients recovering from addiction.

Others might start taking drugs in order to do better, whether to enhance performance in athletic activities, to improve their ability to concentrate, to stay awake, or to sleep. Often, but not always, these are prescription medications.

Most often, the initial decision to drink or to take drugs is voluntary. However, continued drug use can impair the person's ability to exert self-control. This is what characterizes addiction. Brain imaging of addicted people has revealed physical changes in the areas of the brain that are responsible for decison-making, judgment, behavior control, learning, and memory.

Susceptibility to addiction differs from one person to another. If two people were to do the same quantity of the same drug over the same period of time, one might become addicted, and the other not. There is no one factor that can determine a person's susceptibility to addiction, but it's fair to suggest that the more risk factors that a person has, the greater the chance that use will progress to abuse and addiction.

Environmental factors may play into it, as well. Good or bad influences within the home environment can be a critical factor, particularly during childhood. When parents or other older family members misuse alcohol or drugs, the risks of addiction are higher for children in the home.

During adolescence, in particular, the influence of friends can have a strong influence. Peer pressure than encourage even those without significant risk factors to try drugs for the first time. Poor social skills or academic failure may place a child at risk for using and possibly addiction.

The earlier in life that a person begins to use drugs, the greater the likelihood that serious problems will later develop, particularly when combined with other risk factors.

Genetic factors may also play a significant role in a person's vulnerability to addiction. Additionally, adolescents and people with mental disorders who misuse drugs or alcohol are at greater risk of addiction.

The method of administration of the drug is also a factor. Injecting a drug into a vein increases its potential for addiction. When injected, a drug will produce a sudden rush of intense pleasure. The high achieved through an injected drug can fade quickly, bringing the user down to lower than normal levels. Repeated drug-taking is sometimes due to the user seeking to recapture this initial high.

While many people turn to drugs as a solution for any number of things that are bothering them, the drugs eventually become the problem, and the problem can be difficult to solve.