Psychological factors behind alcohol and drug addiction
Alcohol and drug addiction also known as substance abuse is a patterned use of substance
(drugs or alcohol) in which the user consumes the substance in amounts or with methods
that are neither approved nor supervised by medical professionals. Alcohol along with other
drugs has the potential to harm the users and tempts them into overindulgence. In United
States, about 50% of deaths (from accidents, homicides, suicides) in people under the age
group of 15-24 are occurring due to alcohol or drug abuse. The consumption of alcohol and
drug is also contributing to physical and sexual aggression such as assault or rape. Some
teenagers are also resorting to regular use of drugs or alcohol to compensate for anxiety,
depression or lack of positive social skills.
Currently, thousands of alcohol and drug rehab centers are offering different programs
in the United States to help those people who have social or personal problems with drugs
or alcohol. However, the success rate of these programs is quite lower considering the
investment made. The superficial view being adopted by the alcohol and drug rehab
centers that social or philosophical factors are causing the addictive behavior and that by
changing an addict’s belief system or his/her social support structure could end his/her
addictive behavior is the one of the reason as to why the success rate is low. Moreover,
superficial views from governmental and religious orientations that maintain that addiction
is the result of bad personal choices, weak character and anti-social or irreligious behavior is
also adding to some of the myths doing rounds about alcohol and drug addiction.
Addiction in real sense is giving up the conscious control over activities. Addiction is
impulsive, unconscious behavior and addicts are people who have lost control of their lives
as well as their substance use and abuse. These people may have umpteen times tried to
stop using these substances for their own personal, social and financial reasons and may
indeed have got success in stopping for shorter or for longer periods but are not able to
maintain a true abstinence over an extended period of time. It can be concluded that
addiction is a progressive disease.
The scientific and medical advancements made in recent decades have helped in improving
understanding about the true psychological basis of addiction. Research and technology had
increased awareness of addiction process work with the discovery of neurotransmitters and
hormones that strongly affect the feelings and inclinations of the addicts. The new aspects
of the endocrine and nervous system function are playing the key role in an increased
understanding and awareness about addiction.
Therefore, it can be concluded that to ensure more success in the treatment of drug addicts
and alcoholics, health care experts must educate clients and counselors about the real basis
of addiction and help them to take an active role in helping themselves towards the
awareness about their addiction so that they can be redirected in positive ways.