How Addiction Happens

No one sets out to become an addict or alcoholic, it is a process that happens overtime and often the user does not see the warning signs before its too late.

For the majority of addicted individuals, their substance use begins innocently enough. They didn’t set out to become an addict when they first experimented with drugs or alcohol. Often, their first introduction to alcohol or drugs is through another person in a social setting. They may be visiting a friend and decide to go through their parent’s liquor or medicine cabinet. They might be at a party and are offered alcohol or drugs. It is rare for a person to experiment with a substance for the first time when they are by themselves. Typically, experimentation with drugs or alcohol begins during the individual’s teen years or even preteen years, when they are ill-equipped to properly think through the consequences of their actions. Preteens, teens and young adults are known for engaging in risky and unwise behaviors. This is because their focus in on the immediate pleasure and gratification they receive vs. being concerned about the potential consequences of their actions. All too often, the younger a person experiments with substances and begins using them recreationally the more likely it is that they will develop an addiction problem. Their attraction to drugs and alcohol and repeated use of substances becomes intertwined with their developmental growth and leads to much larger problems for them in the future; namely addiction.

Another way that people become addicted to drugs is through doctor-provided prescriptions. While the individual seeks out treatment for a ligament ailment, such as pain or anxiety – their use of prescribed medications becomes habit forming. Many medications used to treat pain and anxiety are known to be habit forming and carry a great deal of risk when consumed in any other way than prescribed by the physician. When the person develops an addiction to their medication it is not uncommon for them to “doctor shop” to feed their prescription drug addiction. Prescription drug addicts will go from doctor to doctor in hopes of cajoling the physicians into prescribing them a specific type of drug. As they continue to see doctor after doctor their skill at being able to manipulate the physicians increases and they are able to get the prescription drugs they are after. While many doctors today are savvy to “doctor shopping”, there are still some who take their patients at face value and prescribe the medication their patient indicates they require. Additionally, the online prescription drug market offers addicts access to opiates and benzodiazepines easily and hassle free. Street drug dealers also are known to sell prescription medications along side their illicit street drugs.

While it would be great to be able to tell who has the potential to become an addict, the science isn’t there yet and there is no way of knowing who will get hooked and who will stop at merely using drugs and alcohol recreationally. Generally speaking, most addicts look just like everyone else until their addiction becomes so out of hand that it physically, emotionally, and/or financially takes a toll on them. Knowing how addiction develops is critical in preventing it from happening.

 

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