Home > The Complex Nature of Abused Substances and Getting Help for Addiction > Drug of Choice
Substance abusers often stick to one type of drug when they are using. They know the drug intimately, have a thorough understanding of the affects, have a ritual associated with taking the drug and will seek it out at any opportunity. A drug is taken for the feelings and experiences that go along with it. Some people will indulge in psychedelic drugs because they enjoy the out-of-body, hallucinatory experience of the drug. Others prefer to take stimulants and enjoy feeling excited, euphoric and energized.
Drug users have a specific group of people they will associate with when they take drug who typically are other drug users. Generally speaking, it is rare to find groups of people who abuse heroin, cannabis, cocaine or alcohol all spending time together. Heroin addicts find kinship with other heroin addicts, alcoholics relish the bond they have with other alcohol dependents and cocaine addicts will seek out relationships with other cocaine users.
There are a number of factors that influence the drug a person will take which include family drug use, peer pressure, social and cultural group and physiological responses to the drug. A person who reacts with a hangover or bad comedown to a drug may not continue to take that substance. Similarly, if a person takes a drug that is considered negative by a certain social or family group, they may not take it again. All these factors will determine what the preferred drug is and what may become the drug of choice for an addict.
For many people who abuse drugs or alcohol, they define their personal identify with the lifestyle and the drug. They will label themselves as a drug user or alcoholic beyond other identifiers and find it difficult to imagine a life beyond their drug of choice. For a person who smokes marijuana, the lifestyle of a stoner and all the social connotations that go along with that are difficult to move away from. Heroin addicts believe that they are and always will be a junkie and alcoholics cannot imagine a life beyond their drink. For these people, the drug or the drink has become such an intimate and important role in their life that it is hard to stop.
Drug and alcohol use is often associated with recreational activities, events or lifestyles. Certain jobs may place pressure on people to indulge in drugs such as those who work in bars, restaurants, drivers and even hospital workers. Each social group will have a specific drug that they will use over others. Long-haul drivers will take and share their supplies of amphetamines. Doctors and nurses may take opiate drugs or other prescription medication to help them sleep. Bartenders often abuse alcohol.
When drugs are considered common place amongst a group of friends or in a family, there is some level of concern about the repercussions or opinions that other people will have of the non-user. A significant number of people suffer from personal problems, anxiety, stress, mental health problems or poor coping skills. When these people begin to use alcohol or other drugs, there can be tragic outcomes such as chronic drug abuse. It should also be remembered that regardless of what is considered normal in a social group, illicit drugs are illegal, and the long-term societal, physical and mental impact the drugs can have outweighed any of the positives.
Peer pressure is a significant contributor to drug and alcohol use and abuse. Many people find they will be pressured and coerced into taking a substance as a way to fit in to a social group. For young people, this is particularly true as they will find the need to be the same as everyone else very difficult to resist. Depending on the social setting and environment, the drug that may be pushed onto a user will vary but often includes marijuana and alcohol. Binge drinking and other dangerous drinking behaviors will be encouraged by young, inexperienced and naive drinkers who may see this harmful behavior as nothing more than a bit of fun.
Peer pressure can determine the type and frequency of drug use. For many people, they will stick to their friends who also take drugs. The use of illegal drugs or drinking to excess is considered normal behavior to these groups and may in fact view non-drug users or non-drinkers suspiciously. Substance abuse will be the main thing that unites the group and the common interest is to get high or drunk.
The development of an addiction is influenced by multiple biological, familial, psychological and socio-cultural factors. Genetics account for around half of the reasons for a person becoming an addict. There is no one particular addiction gene, but a number of different genetic and biological factors that make someone more or less vulnerable to becoming an addict. It is believed that patterns of abuse are affected by personality, mental health, physiological reactions to drugs and risk-taking behaviors, which are all influenced by a person’s upbringing. It is also believed that genetics or parental drug or alcohol abuse play a significant part in determining the type of drug a person may abuse.
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