Understanding the Why of Drug Addiction
An addiction develops due to a host of reasons. One may initially kick it off as a form of experimentation and gradually form a dependency on the substance or habits in question. Other factors that contribute to drug addiction are escapism, peer pressure, genetics, stress, environment and family upbringing. A deadly addiction can take many forms too, right from being addicted to alcohol to gambling and often illegal drugs. Thus, it is very important to understand the why of drug addiction. Today, we take a look at the facts that contribute to drug addiction, how social trauma is linked to it, the role of genes and mental illness and, ultimately, how one can prevent drug addiction.
Psychological Reasons Behind Drug Addiction. Most people use drugs in order to experiment and have fun. A majority of these limit to occasional drug use and do not turn into drug addicts. People who use drugs compulsively due to psychological vulnerability are the ones who get addicted to drugs. Drug addicts often struggle with intense emotional experiences which they find hard to deal with. Common ones are rage, guilt, grief, emptiness and loneliness. Addiction often serves as an analgesic and helps them to numb these emotional experiences and escape from pain. Some people also use drugs in order to boost their low self-esteem.
Social Trauma is Linked to Drug Addiction. Social trauma is an important causative and maintaining factor in compulsive drug use. Individuals who experience social trauma develop a psychological vulnerability because of which they cannot deal with intense emotional experiences and therefore resort to drugs. Social traumas that make people prone to drug addiction can operate at individual, familial and socio-cultural level. Common ones include: Sexual abuse, emotional neglect, disturbed family environment, physical abuse, terrorist violence, forced migration and exile.
The Role of Genes and Mental Illness in Drug Addiction. Research has found genetic and biochemical correlates of drug addiction, however psychological factors play a major role and clinical experience shows that psychotherapy and motivation enhancement can lead to a change even in the most dysfunctional drug addicts.There is a need to understand and treat drug use from a comprehensive perspective that takes into account biological, psychological and social factors.
Common Types of Drug Addiction. The most commonly used drugs are alcohol, heroin, cocaine, LSD, methamphetamine, marijuana, opium and ecstasy. Apart from these, people also use abuse prescription and over-the-counter drugs.
The Working of a Brain When You Take Drugs. Drugs contain chemical substances which affect the manner in which our brain functions. They alter the manner in which our nerve cells communicate and lead to rapid and abnormal generation of thoughts and mood states. Due to this the person experiences the classic artificial high or out of the world experience.
Prevention is the Key in Controlling Drug Addiction. Taking preventive measures and being watchful of your inner states is extremely helpful in avoiding drug addiction. If you have experimented with drugs and feel an urge to go back to them whenever you are feeling low or disturbed, there is a huge risk that you may get addicted to them. In that case seek psychological help to develop alternative coping mechanisms to beat stress.
Even though the substance or behaviour may vary from person to person, the addiction treatment requires social support, lifestyle modifications and psychotherapy sessions. The ultimate goal being, that the person should achieve lasting abstinence.
This post was complied with expert inputs from Dr. Pulkit Sharma, Clinical Psychologist & Psychoanalytical Therapist, VIMHANS, New Delhi
*Image courtesy: © Thinkstock photos/ Getty Images
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