People who have never experienced addiction often wonder why someone would want to become addicted to a substance. They ask themselves why anyone would use a substance that could potentially lead them down that path. Many of these questions don’t have simple answers, and the questions that do have answers, are not easy to understand. The best way to explore the way addiction begins is to peel back the complex issues layer by layer and examine the way each component relates to the overall matter.[i]
First use encompasses experimentation with alcohol or drugs, but also includes a person taking medication that their physician prescribed them for a specific issue.
Whether the first use is out of a sense of adventure, peer pressure or a medical necessity, they learn how the substance makes them feel at this point. Continued us of the substance, in the case of a person with a prescription, might be out of a requirement or feeling the need to use the medication.
For an individual that experimented not too long ago and returned to the substance, it’s clearer that they like how the drug makes them feel. Also, in the continued use stage, a person is likely to notice that they’re not bouncing back as quickly after getting “high.” This is because it’s taking the brain longer to chemically repair itself and return to normal balance.[ii]
Drug consumption eventually becomes obsessive and necessary to the individual. The individual wants the drug, needs the drug and is willing to go to great lengths to get it. Now trapped, the drug addict does not immediately realize his situation or is blatantly denying it. Whatever problem he was initially trying to solve by using drugs, fades from his memory.
At this point, all he can think about is getting and using drugs. He loses control over his usage and turns a blind eye over the grave consequences of his actions. Drugs have now become the most important thing in his life. Ironically, the addict’s ability to get “high” from the alcohol or drug gradually decreases as his body adapts to the presence of these foreign chemicals. He now needs to consume more and more drugs, not just to feel their effect, but also just to function at all. By doing so, he has crossed an invisible and intangible line, that now makes a fully-fledged drug addict or alcoholic.[iii]
[i] Medmark Treatment Centers, How Drug Addiction Starts, Holly Holloway, accessed 10 February 2020, <https://medmark.com/how-does-drug-addiction-start/> [ii]Inspire Malibu, The 5 Stages of Addiction, Inspire Malibu Editorial Staff, accessed 10 February 2020, <https://www.inspiremalibu.com/blog/alcohol-addiction/5-stages-addiction-psychological-behavioral-roadmap/> [iii]Drug Addiction Canada, The Beginnings of Drug Addiction, Drug Addiction Canada Editorial Staff, accessed 10 February 2020, <https://drugaddiction.ca/drug-addiction/the-beginning/>