One reason people often give for taking drugs is that it makes them feel good. Actually, it does feel good because most drugs act directly on the limbic, or “pleasure center,” in the brain. Some might light up a cigarette at a party. They might not consider themselves to be a “smoker,” but they do it to feel good or to “look cool.” Someone might smoke pot at their friend’s house because they think it could be fun. So what’s the problem? Drugs don’t care what the reason is. The same effects occur whether you’re drinking to have fun or drinking to forget a problem, whether you’re doing drugs to see how they feel or doing them to fit in with the crowd.
People take drugs to change the way they feel. Often they want to change their situation. If they’re depressed, they want to become happy. If they are stressed or nervous, they want to relax, and so on. By taking drugs, people on drugs often think they can be the person they want to be. What’s the problem? It isn’t real. You haven’t changed the situation; you’ve only distorted it for a little while. Following are some of the reasons people on drugs say they use drugs to feel good or change their situation:
1. People on drugs use them because they want to fit in.
Nobody wants to be the only one not participating. No one wants to be left out. So, sometimes they make bad decisions like taking drugs to cover-up their insecurities. They don’t think about how drugs can isolate them from their friends and family. They forget to look past that one party to see how things could turn out. Or maybe they just don’t see the people around them who aren’t using drugs.
2. People on drugs use them because they want to escape or relax.
You’ll hear a lot of people saying things like “I’m so stressed, I need to get messed up!” or “Drugs help me relax.” What they’re really saying is “Drinking or doing drugs is just easier than dealing with my problems or reaching out for help.” The thing is, the problems are still there when they come down. Not only do they still have to deal with it, they have to deal with it when they’re not 100% and they are feeling guilty or even worse when they’re not thinking straight.
3. People on drugs use them because they’re bored.
Lots of people turn to drugs for a little excitement because they say there’s nothing else to do but watch the same Simpsons rerun for the tenth time or hang out at the Burger King. But people who make these kinds of decisions usually find out that drugs are ultimately a painful waste. Drugs don’t change the situation, they just might make it worse.
4. People on drugs use them because the media says it’s cool.
Even though there’s an anti-drug ad on every minute, and more rock stars and ball players than you can shake a stick at tell you to stay away from drugs, the truth is the entertainment world still manages to make drugs appear very attractive. Kind of like how they encourage people to be really skinny even when they say anorexia is bad. Or when they say you should be super muscular but steroids are bad. But if you’re wise, you’ll understand that the entertainment world is not the real world. Basing your life on these messages is superficial.
5. People on drugs use them because they think it makes them seem grown-up.
This is one of the weirdest reasons. Think about it…Why would an adult want to use drugs? Probably for many of the same reasons you would consider. The reality is that the most grown-up people out there aren’t users. They’re too busy living their lives to bother with stuff, like drugs, that will interfere.
6. People on drugs use them because they want to rebel.
Sometimes people turn to drugs to make a statement to someone else, such as their families or society in general. Somehow, they think taking drugs makes them outlaws or more individual. The problem is that taking drugs ultimately robs these people of their ability to be independent, because it makes them dependent on drugs and their drug connections.
7. People on drugs use them because they want to experiment.
It’s human nature to want to experiment. Trying things out helps you decide if they’re right for you. But it’s also human nature to avoid things that are obviously bad for you.
Many people don’t become addicted to drugs, but may continue to do drugs for the same reasons they started: because they want to fit in, because they want to escape, because they’re bored, etc. These are people who have issues with insecurity, and are scared or unwilling to confront their problems head on in an intelligent way. A better way to deal with them would be talking to friends, counselors, even parents!
For other people on drugs, once they’ve started using drugs, they become physically or mentally addicted. They want more. In fact, they feel like they NEED more! Eventually, trying to get drugs becomes the most important thing in their lives. It uses up all their time, money, and energy and really hurts people they’re close to.
Media reports and official publications have frequently portrayed people on drugs as lacking self-esteem, unable to resist peer pressure, seeking oblivion, rejecting traditional norms, anti-social and willing to violate laws. This research by a team at Demos tested these impressions by examining young people’s attitudes through quantitative re-analysis of a survey of 854 young people (respondents – divided into those who had tried and had not tried illicit drugs) and a qualitative study of 110 young people (interviewees – classified as non-users, recreational users and problem users).
The study found:
1. In the quantitative survey, those who had ever tried an illicit drug tended to be similar to those who had not in terms of:
- sociability (those who had tried drugs tended to be slightly more independent, more at ease in complex situations, and less introverted)
- levels of trust and respect for their families
- levels of resignation and self-esteem
- holding a ‘puritanical’ outlook
2. In the qualitative study, recreational user interviewees were as likely to disapprove of behavior they regard as being “out of control” as were non-users.
3. Recreational users were a little more distrusting than non-users of authority figures in general, and had a significantly less positive attitude to the police and law enforcement.
4. Attitudes and behaviors that reduced the potential harm of drugs were evident within the youth sub-cultures of interviewees. For example, there was a strong sense of duty to help those in trouble with drugs or those they perceive to be becoming addicted.