About one in ten Americans over the age of 12 has some sort of drug addiction. They may be hooked on drinking, smoking, shooting up, or using a variety of different drugs at once. Why people use drugs varies, as well.
But no matter what they’re using, the best way to help an addict is to figure out the reason for their addiction.
When you take a step back and think about what may have triggered your loved one’s desire to use drugs, you get a much better understanding of their addiction as a whole. You end up trading judgment for knowledge, and you become a little more sympathetic for their struggles, too.
Some reasons are easier to understand than others, though.
Thankfully, all the information you need to educate yourself about addiction is readily available. As far as the reasons why people use drugs go, keep reading to learn about the top 7 things that cause people to become addicted.
1. They’re Anxious
Sometimes, people to turn to drugs to find a way to relax their mind and lower the intensity of their emotions. This is true for those who live with social anxiety or general anxiety disorder, but it’s also something that people who are suddenly experiencing high levels of anxiety can go through.
To be anxious about something can mean a few different things. A person may feel like they have too much pressure put on them either from the expectations of others or themselves.
They may be nervous about a new chapter in their life. Or, they could be suffering from a mental condition like PTSD.
All of these situations and more stir up intense reactions. Unfortunately, not everyone can handle them in a safe, healthy way.
2. They’re Trying to Cope with Something
Coping and being anxious are not the same thing.
Maybe what caused the addict you care about to start using drugs is that they felt guilty for other actions they were doing. Maybe they were dealing with heartache or they just had a loved one pass away.
Such challenges aren’t easy to face, especially if a person feels alone or helpless. Even if they know in their mind that drugs won’t take the pain away, they may end up trying to cope with this anyway.
3. They Don’t Want to Feel Pain
Speaking of pain, physical discomfort is another reason that some people start using drugs. This is common for addicts who are using heroin or painkillers.
At first, the drug use begins as a way to numb intense physical pain. It may have been prescribed to someone you love or they may have gotten their hands on it illegally from the start.
Either way, it’s hard to give up the feeling of numbness when the literal pain experienced while sober is too much to bear. Then, when the pain has healed, the addiction remains and consumes a persons’ life.
4. They Want to Fit In
Remember, some reasons people use drugs are easier to understand than others. This is arguably the one that’s hardest not to judge.
If you’re a parent of a teenager who’s addicted to drugs or the friend of an addict who’s using drugs to “be cool,” you have to dig deeper than peer pressure to find the real reason for this issue.
Think about what made them feel like they had to try so hard to fit in. This changes the need to “be cool” to a completely different narrative. It shines a light on how alone or insecure the person you love may be feeling, which is a sign that they need more love from you beyond help recovering from addiction.
5. They’re Copying a Learned Behavior
Here’s something interesting to consider: 50% of the time that it occurs, addiction has been genetically inherited. In other words, the underlying cause for your loved one’s drug problem may be somewhere in their family tree.
If it’s your child who’s exhibiting addictive behavior and you’ve never had a drug problem, think back to family members in the generation above you. Your siblings and the family members on your spouse’s side can have an effect on this, too.
Keep in mind that nurture is just as important as nature. If you’re in a relationship with someone who has an addictive personality, it doesn’t necessarily mean that if you decide to have children with them your kids are going to turn into addicts.
6. They’re Seeking a Different State of Mind
Curiosity is a tricky thing. It leads some addicts down a deep, dark path that they never imagined they’d end up on. But, all it takes is one dose of this drug or a hit of that drug to make a person want more.
Before they know it, months or even years have gone by and they still haven’t put the drug down. It’s a slippery slope to go down, but the good news is it’s not a defining path for a person’s life.
7. They’re Lost
The final reason a person may become addicted to drugs is that they’re lost. This can mean a few different things.
They may have a co-occurring mental condition that leads them to drug use – like depression, insomnia, or ADHD. They may feel like they have no one to turn to in tough times, so they turn to drugs instead. They may even feel neutral about life – not particularly content nor unhappy – and turn to drugs as a way to find excitement or adventure.
Understanding the Reasons Why People Use Drugs Is the First Step of Helping Them
At the end of the day, the best way to help an addict is to meet them where they are. You have to be willing to try and understand the reasons why people use drugs even if you’ve never been able to see the other side of the story before.
Things change when it’s someone you personally know and care deeply about that’s addicted. Such a situation inspires you to do anything you can to help, and the first step is educating yourself about addiction.
To discover more information and see what additional things you can do to help, click here.