People in general begin taking drugs for a variety of reasons:

To Feel Good.  Most of the abused drugs produce intense feelings of pleasure.  This is called euphoria.  This is followed by other effects, which is different from one drug to another.  If you do a stimulant such as cocaine your “high” is followed by feelings of power, self-confidence, and increased energy.  On the other hand, the euphoria caused by heroin is followed by feelings of relaxation and satisfaction. 

To Feel Better.  Some people we know have a problem in the social area.  They experience anxiety, stress related disorders and depression.  These people begin abusing drugs in an attempt to lessen feelings of distress.  Stress can play a major role in beginning drug use.  It will also affect the way they continue to use the drug or relapse when recovering from addiction.

To do better.  There is an increasing pressure that some people feel they should chemically enhance or improve their athletic or cognitive performance.  They want to do better on the field or do better with their studies.  This pressure can play a role in initial experimentation and continued drug abuse.

They are Curious.  “Others are doing it” Young people are particularly vulnerable because peer pressure is very strong.  These young people are more likely to engage in “thrilling” and “daring” behavior” Do it because others are doing it?  They want to find out what it is all about.

If Taking drugs makes people feel better, what’s the problem?

People get a positive effect, at first, with drug use.  They believe they can control their use.  Drugs start to take over their lives.  Finally they end up needing to go to a drug abuse rehab or some other program to begin to deal with their problem.  Let’s just think about how a social drinker can become intoxicated get behind the wheel of a car and quickly turn a pleasurable time into an accident that spells trouble for him and others.  Time goes on, and if drug use continues, the pleasurable activities become less and less pleasurable.  Now the drug abuse sets in; it becomes necessary for abusers to use their drug to simply feel “normal”.  These drug abusers reach a point where they seek and take drugs no matter the tremendous problems they have because they take the drugs.  They don’t even consider their loved ones.  Some abusers may go into this feeling of having to take higher or more frequent doses.  This can happen in the early stages of their abuse.

The first decision to take drugs is voluntary.  Later when drug abuse takes over a person’s ability to exert self control can become seriously impaired.  Brain imagining studies have shown physical changes in areas in the brain that are critical to judgment, decision-making, learning and memory along with behavior control.  These images were looked at with the drug addicted person and found changes for them.  These changes, scientist say, alters the way the brain works and it may explain the compulsive behavior of addicts.

No single factor determines whether a person will become addicted to drugs.  The overall risk for addiction is influenced by the biological makeup of the individual, gender or ethnicity and surrounding social environment.

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