For ages, people have been actively consuming narcotics. Have you ever wondered why they can’t simply decide to stop? I mean, it’s as simple as stating I don’t want to, right? However, it is sometimes easier said than done. I believe we all have a habit that we have attempted to change for millennia, but we need people to help us, and sometimes, even after they help, we end up relapsing back into the same behavior pattern. Why?
The main reason is that you never truly addressed the root causes. Your unconscious mind is still processing those thoughts and feelings, among other things. Did you know that your brain has the ability to choose to sacrifice the body for its own benefit? That being said, we must tap into the unconscious to discover why we are unable to quit certain behaviors. There are numerous reasons why people feel the need to utilize various drugs and substances. However, they can all be narrowed down to four major variables.
a.) Emotional factors
Emotions have a powerful influence on behavior. The primary purpose for drug use is to alleviate discomfort. People who take drugs to satisfy an emotional need may be dealing with:
- Grieving the death of a loved one: the loss of a loved one is usually a huge blow to the family especially if they were the breadwinner.
- End of a relationship: I am very sure we all have had a friend or relative or maybe it happened to us, when a relationship came to an end, we drifted into a state of despair and loss. There was a void that was left and at times, it is very easy to fill it with substance abuse as a way of self-distraction from the pain.
- Financial burdens: many people after the covid 19 pandemic experienced a financial shock that disrupted their lifestyle. Most people did not have the flexibility to adjust to the new life patterns and this greatly depressed them and they ended up being drug and substance abusers.
- Career pressures: there are some careers that are more demanding than others and it is very easy for a person to succumb to the pressure and end up feeling stressed and overwhelmed and decide to use drugs as a way of relaxing and taking their “minds off work”
- School pressures: as a student, there is an overload of work and if you are not good at time management and self-planning, it is very easy to feel overwhelmed by them.
- Family demands: whether you play the role of the breadwinner or the child, there are certain roles and responsibilities that are expected of you. Some have more responsibilities than others and it is very easy to feel overwhelmed by them especially if you get the impression that you are struggling to impress the family. It ends up being exhausting especially when the effort you put in is not recognized and the feelings of failure and despair can drive you to drug and substance use.
- Abuse and trauma: traumatic experiences can be very triggering and at times, the only coping method most people find to be sensible is to drown or bury those thoughts.eg sexual abuse, physical abuse, and domestic violence among others.
b.) Physical factors
Most people use drugs to change their emotional state from sad and lonely to happy and cheerful. People who take drugs to satisfy a bodily urge generally struggle with:
- Depression: the feelings of sadness, despair, and loneliness among others are the accompaniments to depression. When we start feeling like this, we end up experiencing a surge of various emotions that tend to make us want them to stop. When a person who is going through depression takes part in substance and alcohol abuse, their mood elevates and they feel happy even if it is for a few hours and that glimpse of happiness is all they crave for.
- Boredom: as they say, an idle mind is a devil’s workshop. When bored, it is so easy for a person to opt to occupy this time by partaking in drugs and substance abuse.
- Desire to enhance their performance: we have heard of stories where athletes have been disqualified from competitions for taking steroids to boost their physical performance.
- Mental illnesses: such as Borderline Personality affects one`s moods. A person living with BPD may have a high chance of taking part in substance and drug abuse and other extremities due to their emotional instability.
- Psychological: General feelings of inadequacy towards themselves or the world, so they use drugs to boost their confidence and self-esteem, and ability to make sense of things. Many are times when we find ourselves wishing that we were better or comparing ourselves to someone we admire. Wishing to be given even if it’s an ounce of what they have.
c.) Psychological factors
Many times, people who use drugs to fulfill their psychological needs, might be struggling with:
- Rebellious nature: ever heard of something called antisocial personality disorder? Contrary to its name, it does not mean being anti-social, but rather in simple terms, being a rebel. Ever come across a person who is always in conflict with forms of authority be it the police, teachers, or even their parents? There are very many reasons that can make a person rebel and in their nature, they are also likely to rebel against societal rules and norms. Hence why they are likely to take part in drugs and substance abuse.
- Instant Gratification: the main reason people take drugs is for the “high or good feeling” that accompanies it. The need for immediate happiness can make people wander off into drugs and substance abuse.
- Mental Health Problems: eg Anxiety and social anxiety. Many times, when I hear people say that they are shy until a drop of alcohol soils their blood. True to their words, there are people who might be introverted in nature or timid and shy to talk to people, especially in social gatherings, but the moment they take a few shots of alcohol or a few puffs of marijuana or any drug they prefer, they become the loudest in the room. Suddenly a friend to everyone.
- The need to feel like an adult: Teenagers are primarily affected by the desire to feel like an adult and the want to demonstrate to others and to themselves that they are now fully grown adults. They often feel worn out and overwhelmed from being treated like children, and they think that once they start abusing drugs and alcohol, they are suddenly adults.
d.) Environmental factors
- Our surrounding environment greatly impacts our intake of drugs. If we are brought into an environment that has normalized the concept of drug consumption, chances are that we are likely to end up using them too.
A person who is using drugs as a way of fulfilling their environmental needs might be struggling with:
- Isolation: Are you familiar with the phrase “the black sheep”? Our lives are greatly and strongly influenced by society, to the point where if we are assigned to a particular status or rank, we inevitably take on that identity. The term “the black sheep” is typically used to describe persons who society perceives as being socially awkward, which ultimately depresses them. People who experience this isolation from society and sense that they have no purpose in life frequently wind up abusing drugs and other substances, and in the most extreme cases, they may even think about or make an attempt at suicide.
When I was a child, I would observe grownups consuming a particular beverage that was neither water nor tea. Out of curiosity I reached for the glass to take a sip, but as soon as I leaned forward to get it, it was gone. I was informed that it was a beverage only for adults. What do you suppose was going through my head in such a situation? In the comment box, you can leave responses.
- Peer pressure:Peer pressure primarily impacts teenagers. Being around people who abuse drugs and alcohol could influence you to do the same. There is no way you can be in the same room as people who are smoking or drinking, and if you refuse to join them, they will persuade you to engage in the behavior.
- Misinformation or ignorance: Misinformation or ignorance: People who have overcome substance misuse frequently claim that they did not receive the right mentorship and guidance, which is why they lived the way they did. I firmly believe that knowledge is strength and that ignorance is a defenseless position. Let’s work to raise awareness of the negative impacts of engaging in such behaviors, especially among the younger generation.
- The wide availability of drugs: today, drugs are not peddled by your ordinary “Pedi” This is a street word to mean a drug merchant. A teen as young as 13 years can have access to drugs and sell them.
Like every problem, there is always a solution. Drug and mental health centers such as AMREC have been set up for that specific need.
Follow our social media handles:
- Office of National Drug Control Policy, National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign, 3 October 2004
- 22 reasons why people use Drugs and Alcohol https://www.12keysrehab.com/22-reasons-people-use-drugs-and-alcohol/ 12 Keys Rehab
- Dr. Patricia Sullivan, MD,September,13th ,2021, Top 10 Reasons why People Abuse Drugs https://www.sandstonecare.com/blog/5-reasons-teens-use-drugs
- Sahar Wahed, RN, October 8th, 2019, 5 Reasons teens start using Drugs and Alcohol, https://www.abtrs.com/news/top-10-reasons-why-people-abuse-drugs
By Lemu Wanjiku