People often experiment with drugs, alcohol or any other substance and do it for different reasons. Some of us try it out of curiosity, some of us because our friends and peers are doing it, or to have a good time, to improve athletic performance, or to ease other problems like stress or anxiety. To use any of these substances, does not automatically imply abuse as all people are different with varying thresholds, besides there is not a universally accepted stage where casual drug use becomes problematic.
This makes it an ambiguous problem to qualify. Drug abuse and addiction is less about the amount of substance consumed or the frequency, and more to do with the consequences of drug use. No matter how often or how little you’re consuming, if your drug use is causing problems in your life—at work, school, home, or in your relationships—you likely have a drug abuse or addiction problem.
“There is something in any person who drinks in a way that’s clearly not good for them, something that is attracted to that chaos. I change when I’m drunk. I’m one of those people who changes.” - Daniel Radcliffe
”If it wasn’t for that rehab center, I probably wouldn’t have been here. In terms of recovery, it has been very important for me to be a part of a recovery community, to actively be around my people because they understand me. They get it.” - Macklemore
“I thought that if I stopped drinking and I stopped using drugs…I would not be able to play anymore. In other words, those were things that were necessary for inspiration. But it was a shortcut. My experience now tells me in a long time of being in recovery, that I can be a good musician with or without that philosophy.” - Eric Clapton
Drugs, tobacco and alcohol are the poster children of addiction, often leading to the assumption that if one is under the influence, one lacks moral principles or willpower and that they could stop using drugs simply by choosing to change their behaviour. In reality, addiction is a complex disease, and it is a myopic understanding that leads us to believe that it is restricted to drugs and alcohol. The net is wider and includes seemingly innocuous activities like watching television, using the internet, gaming, gambling, and shopping. Beyond the negative consequences that drug abuse and addiction can have for individuals, there is also a significant impact on society at large. What often remains unaccounted for are the loss of family, loss of employment, failure in school, domestic violence, and child abuse.
Experimentation is not wrong or bad and addiction does not happen overnight. But if you are concerned about someone’s addiction or dealing with an addiction, remember to take time to find what is right for you, talk to someone to understand it better, and get help if required. Dealing with addiction can be stressful and challenging and might make you feel hopeless and helpless but by getting help via CBT and therapy, you can explore your strengths and gifts which can help you break the addiction cycle.