Drug use, more often than not, has negative connotations attached to it. Connotations associated with drug use often include; selfishness, irresponsibility, risk-taking, and dangerous behaviours. Although we cannot blame people for having these negative views of drug use, we seldom look into the reasons behind drug using behaviour. Essentially, the effects of drugs make people ‘feel good’, which feeds into the human motivation of hedonism, or seeking of pleasure in general. This explains those who experiment with drugs or simply use them for leisure and enjoyment. However, there are also those people who use drugs for other reasons. For them, drugs help relieve the physical, psychological, or emotional pain they are suffering from, and allow them to experience momentary pleasure. In other words, drug using behaviours can be avoidant behaviours which people seek to cope with difficulties.
Some were exposed to drugs from a young age, particularly from parents having drug addiction or dependence. These individuals not only have to accept that their parents are influenced by drugs and can act differently from other parents, they also have to accept some of their parents’ responsibilities such as looking after the family, and sometimes abusive behaviours from these adults. These responsibilities, as well as neglect and abuse, may prove too much for the individuals such that they are unable to cope by themselves and require external assistance to manage the overwhelming pressure and responsibilities. Some might have been deprived of friends, been isolated all their lives or bullied by others. Instead of continuing with the path of isolation and suffering from the pain of lonliness and emptiness, they may chose to associate with peers who can give them some sense of belonging, even if it means being involved with behaviours or habits that they know do no good for them.
Others might have been exposed to other forms of traumatic events, such as sexual assault, emotional abuse, and death of close ones, which had affected them tremendously. These traumas could be so difficult to deal with that death is the option that they keep going back to. For them, the effects of drugs bring them to another world, which might be easier for them to handle, rather than to deal with the effects of the trauma or reality of life.
Although we can argue that drug using behaviours are not the best way to cope with difficulties, the difficulties we must admit, are not easy to deal with as well, especially if drug use is the only way these individuals learnt to cope with difficulties. If we are able to spend more time and effort to understand drug using behaviours, and not taking on the responsibilities and blame of others, recognise that they do not deserve some of the treatment, learn adaptive ways to cope with difficulties and stress, having goals and plans to help deal with their future, and building a pro social network and support, they may be able to kick the habit more effectively.
Sabrina Ong BA (Psych)(Hons), MPsych (Forensic) MAPS
If you have a drug or alcohol problem and wish to see Sabrina, please contact The Mind Centre on (07) 5608 4148 or email email@example.com
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