Why Does Someone Use In The First Place?

Blog Post

Teenager with depression sitting alone in dark room

In a recent conversation with a friend, he posed a fundamental question in the realm of addiction medicine. Hailing from a religious tradition that staunchly prohibits alcohol, recreational substances, and gambling, he inquired, “Why do people try alcohol and drugs in the first place?” While the answers are undoubtedly multifaceted, they can be distilled into four primary motivations:

To Feel Good: This encompasses the desire to party, have fun, or experience a high.

To Feel Better: Individuals may turn to substances to cope with emotional distress, ranging from mild sadness to severe mental illness, effectively self-medicating.

To Do Better: Seeking improved performance in sports or academics, some individuals believe the potential rewards justify substance use.

To Fit In: Cultural norms, peer pressure, and social dynamics often influence people to partake in drinking or drug use to align with their social groups.

We now understand that addiction involves repetitive engagement in a substance or behavior amidst varying levels of mental stress, socioeconomic factors, and genetic predispositions. Prolonged abuse leads to the development of new neurological pathways, making it challenging to pursue alternative coping mechanisms. Notably, addictive behaviors typically commence during adolescence, a period when the nervous system is highly adaptable. Over 80% of eventual addiction cases involve initial use before the age of 20, with one-third occurring before 15. The likelihood of initiating smoking drastically diminishes after reaching the age of 30.

Addressing the “Why?” of addiction proves immensely challenging. Individuals grappling with addiction often experience a pervasive sense of inferiority and unworthiness. While such feelings are common among humanity, the shame and guilt associated with addictive behaviors exacerbate these sentiments, fostering a deep-seated belief in one’s unworthiness of divine love.

Secular approaches to addiction treatment excel in addressing the “What?”—the practical aspects of addiction—but often fall short in exploring the “Why?” By prioritizing separation from the addictive substance and achieving sobriety milestones, these methods primarily achieve physical abstinence. While groups like Alcoholics Anonymous originally incorporated spiritual elements, the profound healing power of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit are often overlooked. A supportive community and guidance from individuals who have endured and recovered are crucial in teaching new coping mechanisms. However, without an understanding of God’s unconditional grace and the transformative potential of Jesus’ sacrifice, emotional and spiritual sobriety remains elusive.

Regardless of the initial motivations for substance use, integrating a Godly perspective through Christian recovery programs, such as those offered by The Dunamis Effect, provides the most promising path to complete recovery. Such programs aim to liberate individuals from the shackles of addiction, fostering spiritual and emotional sobriety, and empowering them to reintegrate into the Christian community with newfound strength forged through divine healing.

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