The Culture of Drugs: Why It’s Addictive in Its Own Right

When talking about drug addiction, most people consider the chemical dependency created by drug substances. Considering the fact that most drugs are taken specifically because they create a psychological reaction that the individual desires, it is easy to understand how chemical dependency can occur. An individual takes a drug once, perhaps with little more than a bit of hope that the drug may be able to help them in some way. When the drug produces desirable effects, the individual may decide that this substance is helpful to them and should be taken again.

A drug that is taken for the purpose of solving a problem is often viewed as the individual’s only solution. It, therefore, follows that when the individual’s body grows to tolerate the drug and no longer experiences the same desirable effects through the same quantity of drug use, the individual often determines that the new solution is simply to increase their drug intake. This is an incredibly dangerous game, as the body will grow to tolerate the increasingly higher amounts of drug substances to the point where a single hit can be deadly toxic.

The human body will try to cope with the constant presence of and interruption caused by drug substances by working these substances into its normal patterns of operation. This is known as chemical dependence, where the body actually requires drugs in order to function “normally” and it often leads to the state of addiction, wherein the individual will continue to compulsively use a drug substance despite the damaging effects it is having on their health, relationships, and life. However, while the concept of chemical dependency explains how some individuals develop an addiction to drugs, it does not clearly explain why some individuals become addicted while others do not–even if they take the exact same amount of the same drug substances. To explain this, one must look at what else causes addiction.

What Causes Addiction

A recent study in Canada has indicated that in addition to chemical dependency lying at the heart of drug addiction, the very culture of drugs can be addictive. In this study, participants who had just taken cocaine received a PET scan while they watched others take more cocaine. It was determined that simply watching others take cocaine stimulated cravings and a dopamine release in the brain–the very things that lead individuals to dependency and addiction. While further research studies would need to be undertaken to prove conclusively why this might be so, it is safe to assume that individuals who determine that drug use is acceptable or pleasurable, through the drug culture around them, may very well find the path to addiction a very short one.

There has been much talk about “gateway drugs”–or what is considered to be softer drugs that an individual builds up a tolerance to and that then lead them to harder drug use. However, this gateway idea can also apply to drug culture itself, especially if an individual is made to believe that drug use will be acceptable, enjoyable or safe. This would help to explain why peer pressure can apparently be so effective, even in situations where an individual is absolutely certain that they are not at all interested in even a little experimental drug use. It also explains why some individuals find themselves fascinated by the idea of experimenting with some drug even when they have never seen it, and just because they’ve heard songs about its “desirable effects.”

Overcoming Addiction

Fortunately, regardless of how an individual has fallen into the trap of drug addiction, there is a way for them to get out. Overcoming addiction begins with admitting that one has a problem and needs help, and then learning about the various treatment options that are available to them. Many individuals have been able to successfully fight addiction, no matter its cause, and take back control of their lives and futures.

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