Millions of people in the United States abuse drugs every single year. At any one time, as much as 20% of the American population has taken drugs illegally in the past year. If you could never see yourself as one of “those people” or if you are merely curious why someone would choose to endanger their health by taking drugs, you may be interested to hear that there are a few concrete, well-studied reasons why people use drugs.
Top 5 Reasons Why People Try Drugs
This is easily the most widespread reason that anyone uses any type of drug, prescription or illegally acquired. Stress can cause people to take drastic measures to feel better. Drugs are one of the more accessible methods, in many cases.
Instead of expending the effort required to exercise regularly or improve their nutrition, many people find the idea of popping a pill to feel better irresistible. To that end, prescription drug use has skyrocketed in the last 30 years, rising over 300 percent in that time. Mental health diagnoses have increased to match. If the prescriptions stop working or run out, many of these people will turn to other types of drugs.
2. Curiosity and Risk-Seeking Behavior
If you’ve ever taken a sip of alcohol or taken part in the familiar morning coffee ritual, you have taken drugs, albeit socially acceptable ones. Alcohol and caffeine both change our behavior and our mood. We use them to improve our state.
For many drug users, they use drugs for the same reason. To feel excited. To calm down. To sleep. Yes, there may be healthier alternatives. But the drugs are more potent. They’re easier. That’s what makes them so attractive- and so common. Again, as many as 1 in 5 people has abused a drug in the past year in some way- typically a not-so-legal way. Not to mention how many people use alcohol, caffeine, and cannabis on a regular basis.
3. Self Medication for a Physical Issue
Sometimes people are prescribed drugs for legitimate reasons. It could be something like Tramadol, prescribed to dull intense, chronic pain. Maybe you have even been prescribed a benzo to help you through an emotionally tough situation.
These prescriptions, however, are meant to be temporary. Most people don’t see taking prescription drugs as a dangerous or risky activity. Not like “street drugs.” The thing is, many prescription drugs are much more addictive and harmful than unadulterated alternatives. Vicodin and Oxycontin alone have led to more accidental overdoses than cocaine and heroin combined as of 2008. Detoxing from prescription drugs can be just as dangerous, too. Places like addiction sobriety can help make the process easier.
4. Lack of Foresight
Anyone can become addicted to any type of medication, prescribed or not. Many people won’t take stock of the real risks before accepting a prescribed medication, trusting their doctors before their own better judgment. In situations like this, it’s easy to see how someone can become an addicted to their prescription without noticing- until it’s too late.
5. Social Pressure
When it comes to a cycle of drug use and abuse, social pressure can usually be found there. It’s a lot easier to stop using a drug if everyone you know isn’t using it. If you’ve ever tried to give up caffeine only to be asked out for coffee, you know the feeling. Similarly, it can be hard to make new friends without going to a bar or two. And avoiding alcohol at a party or a bar can make you feel pretty out of place.
It’s that awkward feeling that can get to many drug users and give them a push toward using again. Honestly, over time that pressure could get to just about anyone. Giving in doesn’t make someone weak. The urge to fit in is something everyone has- it’s a facet of empathy.