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Causes of Drug Abuse

It is crucial to understand the causes of drug abuse in order to help oneself or someone else if this is a concern. In either case, it can be disheartening to be experiencing a problem with drug abuse and feel as though there is no end to it, or to have a friend or loved one going through this and feel like there is nothing you can do. While it can be overwhelming, there are solutions to drug abuse and addiction available. The most important thing to understand is that anyone from any walk of life can get caught up in drug abuse, including business professionals, athletes, straight-A students, and the like. Drug abuse can occur under a variety of circumstances, and no one is immune to the short and long term effects that drugs can cause in one's life physically, socially, a psychologically.

Peer Pressure

The causes of drug abuse among youth or often primarily social and you may have experienced this as a youth or even as an adult. It is commonly referred to as "peer pressure". Children as they develop socially will often do anything possible to be accepted by their peers, and using drugs and alcohol is socially acceptable beginning at a very early age for American youth. American youth are faced with a few different drug threats however than the youth of the 60's, 70's and 80's. Aside from alcohol and marijuana which is most commonly abused among American youth, there are new designer drugs such as synthetic marijuana which is typically very dangerous because the content of these drugs can be extremely toxic and deaths have occurred in recent years. Another problem at the forefront of teen drug abuse is prescription drug abuse, and these types of drugs are the most abused among American youth following marijuana. This mirrors trends in adult prescription abuse seen over the last decade.

Prescription Drugs

Drug abuse, if the problem becomes more pronounced than just experimentation, often carries over into young adulthood for both illicit drugs and prescription drugs of abuse. It is important to understand that abusing prescription drugs is not something which comes without consequences, and these drugs have the same effects and side effects of illicit drugs of abuse. Prescription drugs which are most abused are prescription pain killers, sedatives, and stimulants. This is true for both youth and adults. The reason prescription pain killers are abused is because of the high that is delivered which is similar to heroin and other opioids when used in high doses. This makes prescription pain killers a suitable substitute in fact. Prescription sedatives are abused of course for their sedating properties, and stimulants are abused because users want to experience a boost in energy and alertness. Prescription stimulants are abused at very high rates among college students for example, who try to keep up with exams and their studies through abuse of these powerful drugs.

Sadly, the causes of prescription drug abuse among individuals who have a legitimate prescription for these drugs are the same as those who abuse them illicitly. For example, someone may have been involved in an accident and as a result experienced a back injury or some other acute pain. Physicians and other health practitioners have been conditioned to prescribe powerful prescription pain killers for even the slightest pain, and often don't screen their patients for prior substance abuse histories. Individuals who have a history of any type of opiate abuse for example, whether it involves heroin or prescription pain killers, should have this circumstance taken into consideration before being prescribed pain killers for mild to moderate pain, in lieu of a non-narcotic solution. However, even someone who has never abused drugs in the past can be prone to abuse of prescription pain killers and can find that they are unable to stop using these drugs when they want to. Someone with no history of drug abuse and a legitimate prescription for pain killers can find it perplexing that they are experiencing opiate withdrawal and even intense cravings when their prescription has run out. This can lead to drug-seeking behavior and a very realistic drug problem, and there are millions of Americans who have become hooked on prescription drugs and other opiates much in the same way.


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The causes of any type of drug abuse for anyone of any age can be very unique as well, and some individuals may turn to drugs and alcohol as a solution to a problem in their lives. Drugs and alcohol offer a temporary escape, so someone continues taking drugs and alcohol to make this escape as permanent as possible. This eventually takes over their lives, and their activities and interests turn very quickly from productive and proactive ones to utterly self-destructive. Someone who may have at once been a very productive and successful person soon finds themselves only interested in drug abuse and drug seeking behavior. This is caused by a couple of different factors, mainly having to do with how individuals develop dependence to drugs and alcohol and tolerance to their effects.

Tolerance to any drug and even alcohol can develop very quickly, which means individuals have to take more of a drug or drink more to experience the desired effects. Anyone who has abused alcohol can tell you that one drink will have absolutely no effect on someone who has developed a tolerance to alcohol after chronic long-term abuse. Dependence means that someone who has been taking drugs and alcohol regularly will have to continue taking them in order to avoid withdrawal. Withdrawal can be extremely punishing both physically and psychologically, and these symptoms impel a person to seek out more drugs and alcohol as much as possible. Someone who is abusing heroin or prescription pain killers for example will need to take these drugs each and every day after dependence has developed. This of course can be a very time and money consuming habit. The cycle of drug abuse can continue for years because of this dependence without proper treatment in a substance abuse facility.

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