Substance use is a topic that many of us are familiar with. I remember having to sit through numerous hours in health class learning about the effects of drugs, the difference between a stimulant and a depressant, and the alcoholic equivalent of a shot in terms of wine and beer. But one thing I think that is often not taught is the why. Why do people drink? Why do people become addicts? Why are alcohol and drugs addictive?
Exploring the answers to these questions allows us to see a fuller picture of the topic, and therefore will allow us to prevent substance abuse in our own lives.
So, the big question: Why? A lot of people might say they drink because they enjoy how it tastes. I think so many people resort to this answer because it is easy. What is harder is admitting that you enjoy how alcohol and drugs make you feel. It is hard to tell people that you enjoy drinking and doing drugs because it allows you to forget about your problems or struggles.
When people become alcoholics and drug addicts, many will look at them and believe that their issue is drugs and alcohol. But in reality, drugs and alcohol aren’t the main issue. They are typically just ineffective solutions to much deeper pain. Instead of tackling pain head on, alcohol and drugs can seem like the easier option because they mask the pain, meaning that the pain does not have to be addressed. But just like when you mask anything else, what is below the surface still exists and will not go away until it is brought to light.
How do we do that? We ask for help. When we feel pain, instead of seeking substances, we need to seek a trusted person in our lives who can help us process that pain. Whether that’s your mom, your best friend, your teacher, or a counselor, it is okay to ask for help. Asking for help is not selfish, nor is it a sign of weakness. If anything, it is a huge sign of strength, and it’s proof that you value your health and wellbeing. So, instead of judging ask the question to care and love those who might be in your path and struggling today.
By Lexi Breunig