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Why Do People Use Drugs?

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Why do people start doing drugs or addictive substances in the first place? Everyone knows that drugs are dangerous and a difficult habit to kick, but that doesn’t stop them.

Drugs affect people of all ages, genders, races, and socioeconomic statuses. Various reasons put some individuals at risk of addictive substances use and its consequences, in an attempt to find an answer to a need, to fill a void that the user is ill-equipped to deal with. People use addictive substances for many reasons: they want to feel good, to stop feeling bad, to perform better, they are simply unfulfilled and curious, or they want to fit in.

Drugs excite the parts of the brain that make you feel good. But after you take a drug for a while, the feel-good parts of your brain get used to it. Soon, your brain and body must have the drug just to feel normal. You feel sick, awful, anxious, and irritable without the drug. 

Let’s have a look at some top reasons for substance abuse:

Reducing Stress

Stress is one of the common emotions. But just because stress is widespread, it doesn’t mean people know healthy ways to deal with it. Trouble at home, failures at work, at school, financial or relational difficulties, or feeling hopeless …this list is long. Stress physically also affects the body. It creates a fight-or-flight response. Stress can increase a person’s heart rate or cause their blood pressure to spike. Some people struggle to sleep or focus on daily tasks and many times, try drugs or alcohol to reduce stress. An important part of an addict’s recovery is learning skills in facing stress.


Mental health issues such as depression, anxiety and trauma are widespread, and many people suffer in silence. Countless people end up turning to drugs or alcohol as an accessible way to dull the pain. Self-medicating is a dangerous path to take. While getting high may reduce negative thoughts temporarily, it is not a sustained solution that leads to a good, fulfilled life with a future and hope.

Thrill Seeking

Some people break the law for the thrill of it, and for them, using drugs provides a powerful dopamine rush. These thrill-seekers feel invincible and euphoric until the high fades. Substance abuse isn’t the only way to increase dopamine levels. Eating fatty or sugary foods boosts the production of this “feel good” hormone. A romantic encounter or a few laughs with friends may recreate this feeling.

Unfortunately, drug users will do anything to increase their dopamine levels, even if it does land them in jail. Re-learning the joys and the satisfactions in life and giving thought to one’s dominating thoughts, desires, and pursuits is a good chapter in an addict’s recovery program.

Social Glorification and Peer Pressure

We live in a society that glorifies alcohol use for nearly every occasion. People drink without worry at social events. Entertainment media portray alcohol and drug use with little to no consequences. Society minimises the risk of “acceptable” substances, like marijuana. As a result, people turn to drugs and alcohol as a form of social gratification, copying their peers’ actions to feel included and valued.

The more people become accustomed to social use, the more likely they are to develop a full-blown addiction. Understanding your identity in this world is an integral part of recovery.

Grieving after a Loss

The sudden death of a loved one or ending a long-term relationship may affect a person emotionally and physically. Everyone grieves differently. Some go through the process relatively quickly, while others struggle to find peace for several years. Grief may cause sudden bouts of depression and can also manifest as physical pain. Many people experiment with drugs to find relief. The longer it takes to process grief, the more likely a person is to turn to drugs or alcohol. You need the tools to deal with negative emotions healthily.


Isolation, along with the feelings of being trapped or bored, often leads people to turn to drugs. Unfortunately, they may resort to almost anything in their desire to escape these feelings.

Can drug addiction be treated?

Yes. People who get redemptive treatment and apply themselves fully can stop using drugs. When people experiment with drugs for the first time, addiction is the last thing on their minds, but we have countless examples of lives changed permanently, not going back to taking drugs and destructive behaviour, with fulfilled, wonder-filled lives and a future to look forward to. 

Recovery is a challenging walk that must be approached with single-minded focus and this takes time. It means learning new ways of thinking, feeling, and dealing with problems. It means to know how to stand firm when things around are shaking. It means learning to focus on what really matters and to look forward to the future with gratefulness and expectation. It means to know you are loved, and to love well.

Do you want to get better?

Call us on 087 133 4357 or
Email us at:

National Institute on Drug Abuse, Advancing Addiction Science (Nov, 2022)
Cannabis Information Centre (Oct, 2011)
Cannabis in the Workplace, CommonHealth (Apr, 2014)
UN Office on Drugs and Crime (May, 2017)
New Life (Apr, 2021)

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