Why Do People Turn to Drugs?

People turn to drugs and alcohol for many different reasons. Understanding why people start using drugs or why people continue to use drugs and alcohol leads to a better understanding of addiction and recovery. By uncovering the true reason behind someone’s drug or alcohol addiction, recovery is achievable through dealing with the underlying problems. Some of the reasons why people start using drugs include:

The drugs were prescribed.

Prescription pill abuse is on the rise in the United States, and, often, the prescribed medication can serve as a gateway to serious addiction and the use of more illicit substances.

It is natural for people to feel safe when taking a medication prescribed by a doctor, especially if it’s following a painful procedure or accident. However, these drugs provide pain-relief, anxiety-reduction and other desirable effects. By affecting the brain and providing these seemingly positive effects, people can become addicted without even realizing it. Many drugs cause a profound physical dependency that makes going without nearly impossible. Soon, the body is dependent on the prescribed medication just to feel “normal.” In these cases, your loved one might take drugs simply because he or she cannot tolerate the uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. As tolerance to the drug grows, so does the amount he or she must take to avoid withdrawal — and that makes the problem worse.

They’re depressed.

Did you know that many people who abuse drugs and alcohol actually suffer from undiagnosed depression, anxiety, or another mental health disorder? Drugs and alcohol cause a false sense of confidence and security that can temporarily relieve uncomfortable psychological symptoms. Unfortunately, drugs and alcohol also have a way of worsening the symptoms your loved one is unknowingly trying to treat. This often worsens abuse, and makes identifying the underlying problem more difficult.

To fit in with others.

People can turn to drugs and alcohol to fit in with their family, friends, coworkers or general peers. Common in teenagers, young adults and adults, drug and alcohol use can be something so popularized within a peer group, it begins to feel non-threatening. Additionally, the peer group may put pressure on someone to use drugs or ostracize a group member for not participating in drug and alcohol use. Sometimes, this regularity of use and pressure can be the final “push” into drug use and, eventually, addiction. Drugs cause a false sense of security that increases confidence and feelings of self-worth. This makes socializing with others easier at first, but as addiction deepens, your loved one’s reputation worsens. Drugs fool your loved one into thinking he or she fits in, but dangerous peer pressure can make them behave poorly — even though they know better.


It’s not shocking that drug addiction is often co-occurring with another disorder, resulting in what’s called a “dual diagnosis.” What is surprising is how many individuals live with mental illness or health disorders without a diagnosis or proper treatment. Some of the most common illnesses associated with drug use are schizophrenia, depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder. Drugs and alcohol can provide some relief to the signs and symptoms of these disorders. Consequently, users can become dependent on the substance to self-medicate an existing disorder.

Boredom or thrill-seeking.

You’ve heard the cliché that idle hands are the devil’s workshop, and there is no finer example than drug abuse. Especially if others easily influence your loved one, drug abuse could be a problem. The act of getting drunk or high can be thrilling to some. Buying the substances, ingesting the drugs or alcohol and eagerly waiting to feel the desired effects can be an addictive process. The cycle of drug use provides adrenaline, risk and a sense of danger for its users. Some people are wired to seek adrenaline-pumping experience, and other individuals seek those same experiences out of boredom. No matter the reason, drugs are often an exciting experience for someone who may be bored or thrill-seeking.

They’re Overconfident

Teenagers ignore sound advice. They don’t listen to their parents and often ignore their real friends. If prescription drugs are the problem, they may even ignore the doctor. What worries you makes your teen euphoric — and that can spell disaster.

They’re Anxiety-Driven

Work deadlines. Money problems. Relationship issues. Legal trouble. All of these stressors, as well as other forms of anxiety, can make the drug user want to escape to oblivion. Using drugs might make them feel good right now, but the weeks afterward are a much different story.

How to Get Help for Addiction Recovery

While it’s clear there are many different roads to addiction, recovery is a necessary component for all. All addicts can benefit from personalized and professional drug and alcohol treatment to help combat addiction.

What to Do if Drug Abuse Is a Problem

It might be difficult to believe your loved one is addicted to drugs. If you have noticed problem behaviors such as mood swings, changes in appetite, lying about using, hanging out with a new crowd or quitting favorite activities, 12 Keys Rehab can help. Don’t wait until your loved one hits rock bottom. The earlier they get help, the easier it will be for them to get sober.

12 Keys offers individual counseling and customized treatment plans to target the underlying reasons why people turn to drugs and alcohol, providing the necessary tools for long-term recovery. If you or someone you love is suffering from drug abuse, addiction or alcoholism, professional treatment can help. Contact us today.

The Addiction Blog