Defining Drugs

Every society in existence today has its own drugs. People have given almost as many reasons for using drugs, as there are the drugs themselves. One of the reasons, the most basic human impulse, for pleasure; is found in a variety of ways. Some of us find it in relationships, in our work, in our material gains, in our drugs. This is inherent within the human make-up. Today in the twenty-first century, drugs are everywhere. Cups of coffee, alcohol and prescribed medication are just some of the legal kinds. Heroin, cannabis and cocaine and so on, some of the illegal types. The less obvious 'drugs' may include computers, our work, shopping or sex. Drug taking is something we enjoy doing, or at least, we did at first.

So why do we start taking drugs or get involved in a particular behaviour in the first place? Some of the reasons are listed below, on a personal level; this will be something only you can really answer. If you are looking at the site for someone else, ask them. The most common reason will probably be because it gives us pleasure or alternatively some other function that we value, such as those listed below.

Some of the reasons why we may want to change our mood may include for example:

anger, hurt or rejection
excitement/a buzz
influence from friends/family
poor self-image
unaware of the effects
escape from circumstances
boredom or curiosity

Over a period of time the 'Drugs' will effect and possibly cause problems in following areas:

social life
work life
legal matters

Has your/someone else's drug taking caused problems in one or more of these areas?

Looking for pleasure

The search for pleasure can be the early roots of the drug taking. Some people are continually following this pursuit for happiness and fulfillment, some people believe they have found it in a variety of behaviours or substances. Often, people usually the young people, will start using alcohol or other drugs experimentally with friends. (Research tells us the younger people start using drugs, the more chance of developing problematic behaviour.) Any problematic behaviour can be developed in the same way. Someone at home all day, may feel bored and go out on a shopping spree. This experience may cause them to be put off using the activity altogether or it may lead them to experiment further.

This may lead them into what is known as recreational use, where they may start visiting the gym or have the occasional 'flutter' on the grand national, or using the substance with friends at parties for instance. The individual may regularly go out shopping, not necessarily spending a lot of money.

Many people will use substances, such as alcohol or other drugs, recreationally, for instance, this weekend, without developing problematic use. Clearly, where the use of the substance is legally permitted, such as alcohol there should be no legal ramifications surrounding the actual use. The problems may arise afterwards, for instance, in the case of an offence of drink driving, or the storing up of illegal information on their computer, such as in some of the high profile cases reported in the media recently. Over a period of time the individual may enjoy the effect of the activity or the substance and start to indulge in it more frequently.

As the individual repetitively continues to partake in the activity, whatever that may be, so they can come to depend on it. This can be a particularly strong dependence, for instance with a drug such as heroin where a compulsion can be developed quickly.

Whatever the activity however, if one has become dependant on it, it may become just as difficult for the individual to control, as any of the other addictions. The pull, or the power, an addiction has over someone should never be made light of; the only person who understands that pull, is the individual. The severity of the grip the addiction has over the individual will never be realised until the person tries to live without it.

The diagram below displays the three main categories of use with regard to the activities and substances mentioned above. There are other ways of showing this? We have favoured the triangle because of the potential for the person to move either way through the triangle moving for instance from problematic use back to recreational or experimental use. i.e. there should always be an element of hope whatever the situation.

The continued use of the substance causes the tolerance level to increase thereby the person will need to partake in more of the activity or substance to receive the same effect. It may provide them with a release from a particularly difficult time in their life, such as a bereavement or relationship breakdown. This can be the start of problematic use. As the use develops slowly problems may start arising. For example problems with relationships because the individual is always on their computer or down at the gym. Taking a day off work with a bad hangover. Trouble with the police, financial difficulties because of amount spent shopping or in the pub, and probably, worst of all, problems with the individual's own health.

Many people will identify that they are developing problematic use, very early on and reduce or cut out altogether their involvement. Others will allow time to slip by and the problem to grow.

Freedom from your 'drug' is possible. Though it may seem just a distant light in the future or maybe you cannot even see the light, because so many other things are crowding it, it is possible. Everyone has their own testimonies, and as a Christian we have many testimonies of how Jesus has set people free from addictions. This phrase may seem a cliché, but when you think of Jesus as the Son of God, the Creator of the Universe, you realise that nothing is impossible for Him. As He even knows the number of hairs on our head (Matthew Chap.10 verse 30) you can imagine that He knows all about what we are going through. If this interests you, please talk it over with a friend who you know has experienced Jesus, or of course you may contact us.

What is the difference between abuse and dependence?

Abuse of the substance or behaviour, is characterised by having too much, too often. It is a pattern that leads to failure to fulfil responsibilities at work, home, or school, and/or repeatedly partaking in the behaviour in dangerous or potentially hazardous situations. There may also be legal and/or financial problems as a result of the behaviour/habit.

Dependence, on the other hand, describes a compulsion to continue partaking in the behaviour, the inability to stop, uncontrolled behaviour. 'A state in which one can only function in the presence of the drug' The taking of the drug can be to avoid the physical discomfort of withdrawal, this is known as physical dependence.

Where the compulsion has a psychological basis - the need for stimulation or pleasure or the desire for a chemical crutch for instance - it is referred to as psychological dependence.

Well if you have got this far ... well done!

You will probably now want to get some more specific information about the particular addiction which interests you, so click on the Types of Addiction menu to the left of this page. Go on ..!

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