Drug Abuse: How Drug Use Becomes Habit

Drug abuse in our society is not new but within recent years the problem has taken on alarming proportions. It used to be that drug addicts were found principally in the inner-city slums. But beginning in the late 1960’s the excessive and indiscriminate use of drugs, especially among teen-agers and young adults, spread to the general population.

It is difficult to sort out all of the factors contributing to this epidemic of experimentation and involvement with drugs, but several are obvious: pressure from associates, curiosity, easy availability, and the teen-ager’s relationships with his parents.

The parents need great tact and judgment in dealing with their teen-agers. Rather than “preaching” to them, they should give them factual information and, by their own example, indicate the advantages of the more desirable way of living.

How Drug Use Becomes Habit

In too many cases the young experimenter takes drugs until he is “hooked.” Assume that in a teen-ager’s home, one or both parents smoke cigarettes and use alcohol. The teenager interprets this as his parent’s permission for him to do the same. Thus is easily vulnerable to the appeals of his fellow teen-agers when they urge him to join them in experimenting with cigarettes, liquor, and even marijuana. These three practices – smoking tobacco, drinking liquor, and smoking marijuana – are a tragic combination. Using them, the teen-ager becomes tolerant of this kind of conduct and may try the more potent drugs. Not everyone, of course, who smiles cigarettes and drinks liquor indulges in drug abuse as we usually define it. But practically every person on hard drugs first used cigarettes, liquor, and marijuana.

Once a person has used a drug enough time to experience its effects, he no longer has to be persuaded. What are these effects? The drug influences his thinking his attitudes, and his moods. They make him feel comfortable, peaceful and secure in site of his problems, his anxieties or his lack of ability.

The person who experiments with drugs grows more deeply involved the longer he continues his use of drugs. Somewhere along the line every user becomes aware of the harm drugs are doing.

Some teen-agers come to this realization after their first few trials. For them if may be relatively easy to quit. But the longer a person continues to use drugs, the harder it is to quit. There are several real hindrances to recovery:

  1. Fear of ridicule by drug-using friends. The young person who uses drugs is usually a member of a group of users. The other members also wish at times for freedom from the drugs, but they find it difficult to leave them, and are not willing to see one member succeed where they have failed.
  2. Unsolved personal problems. These constitute a great hindrance to recovery from drug abuse. The very problems that prompted the teen-ager to continue his use of drugs, once he has experimented with them, are more difficult to solve after he has indulged for a time. His use of drugs has weakened his stamina, robbed him of courage, and caused him to lose time in the personal development that would have helped him to make advancement.
  3. Fear of failure. The chronic drug user is now handicapped in obtaining a rewarding job or continuing his education. He is no longer a front runner in the competition for jobs or scholarships. He is sensitive to his personal failure and so gives in easily to pressures to continue with drugs.

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