Harmless experimenting can lead you down the road of addiction
Most young people will, at some point in there life, experiment with drugs or alcohol. Whether it is when they are freshman in high school smoking pot after school, or freshman at college getting “blackout drunk” for the first time, it is important to understand how harmless experimenting can lead you down the road of addiction. You are probably reading this thinking “not me, I can handle a little pot or a few beers.” And maybe you can. Maybe you aren’t an alcoholic or addict. It’s important to understand that substance abuse disorder is a mental illness, and not a moral failing or lack of willpower. Substance use disorder, like many other mental illnesses, cannot be detected by medical tests such as blood work and CAT scans. It can also be developed over time, when you are using a drug or alcohol, the reward center in your brain lights up, making you happy, so in a way you are conditioning your brain to crave these substances. Does that mean the only way to know you are an alcoholic or addict is by trying out drugs and alcohol? Yes and no.
There are many signs that you carry the “addiction gene” such as, other family members that are addicted to drugs or alcohol, being diagnosed or undiagnosed with another mental illness such as depression or anxiety, lack of self-esteem and a history of trauma. Even without any of these it is important to keep in mind you could still become addicted to drugs and alcohol. It doesn’t make you weak or a bad person. The most effective way to not become addicted to drugs or alcohol, is to not do drugs or drink alcohol, which is unrealistic. You want to experiment! Most young people do. We get it. So, you decided to experiment one or two times with your friends. You are just having fun. You finally felt free and happy. But your not thinking about the drugs or the alcohol or the next time you’ll use them. You just enjoyed being out with friends and letting loose. Plus, it was expensive to go out with friends and you don’t have much money laying around to do this all the time. Not to mention you have class and your part of a recreational flag football team. Your life goes on.
About a month passes and your friends want to do drugs and drink again, you say sure, why not? You haven’t done them in so long, whats the harm? The next weekend comes, and your friends want to do drugs and drink again, you say sure, why not? You still manage to get work done, your doing fine. Now getting drunk and high is part of your weekend routine. It gets a little harder to get work done on the weekend but no big deal. You convince yourself that its fine, it’s only a social thing. You are all just having fun, because its only on the weekends. Maybe once during the week, that’s it! You are still able to go on in life and do most of the things you have to- and if you don’t well then that thing wasn’t so important anyway.
You have no money, you got fired from your job and can’t find a new one. You are worried about how you will get money to continue using drugs and alcohol.
You might try to steal from family or pawn a few things that you “didn’t like anyway.” It is no longer fun to drink or get high, you only do it because you must, or you won’t make it through the day without getting sick.
This is how curiosity killed the cat, don’t let it kill you too. Experimenting with drugs and alcohol puts you at a greater risk for developing substance use disorder. If you think you or a loved one may have a problem with drinking or drugs, or if you have any questions about addiction, call one of our addiction experts or online chat with us, we will answer any questions or clear up any concerns you have. Help is always available and full recovery is possible.