Why Do People Use Drugs?

Green marijuana buds in clear plastic bag

Drug Use

Why do people use drugs? Because it turns their world into a 3D-enhanced virtual reality setting. This allows them to play with the controls as they wish, regardless of the consequences. Users lose interest in normality and may forget that they have responsibilities that cannot always be sacrificed for pleasure. Drugs swallow up some people like a black hole, while others casually float about in the surrounding space, without any problems returning back to reality.

No one intends on getting addicted to a substance. Some people start experimenting due to peer pressure, wanting to fit in, trauma or simple curiosity. We are not here to judge why someone experiments with a drug. Everyone comes from a different background and walk of life and had their specific reason for trying drugs. As mental health professionals, we can analyze with the patient why they started using them, but we’re not in the business of judging them. What’s the point of judgment? It’s not going to help them in the present moment.

So Why Do People Use Drugs? I Still Don’t Get It

Because they want to have fun! Regardless of why they started using drugs, it ultimately comes down to altering their perception of reality. When one alters their perception, they gain newfound knowledge or experiences that are euphoric, enticing and entertaining. Even if it’s for a few hours, it sometimes feels like eternity due to the slowing down of time. When in that euphoric spot, the world is perfect and no one can mess with it; they become one with their mind and surroundings. Music is enhanced, Netflix shows are more entertaining, and empathy for others increases with certain drugs such as MDMA and alcohol. This is why people use drugs.

But why do some people get addicted and others don’t? Because everyone’s brain chemistry and personality are different. Some people have better judgment, more motivation or more realistic expectations; this allows them to completely stop or take breaks that prevents an addiction from manifesting. Other people are not as good at holding themselves back from drug use. For these people, drugs overtake their life while attempting to remain functional. The problem is that drugs and functionality are not a good mix; imagine drinking alcohol and water at the same time. You’re either going to give up the booze or the water. The same goes with people who are prone to becoming addicted to drugs. They end up slowly sacrificing their functionality for more drug use, due to tolerance, dependence and withdrawal.

What is your take on drug use and is society headed towards full-blown legalization of all drugs within the next 25 years?

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Being Ashamed Of Your Drug Addiction

It’s Time To Come Out

There are many people who remain in hiding because of their drug addiction. Many are ashamed to tell their families because of their religion and stigma surrounding drug use. Drug use has no boundaries: it affects all races, nationalities, ethnicities, religions, ages, mental illnesses and whatever else has not been mentioned.

People find it easier to hide their drug addiction in order to avoid the uncomfortable and embarrassing conversations that often follow. In an addict’s mind, the energy and stamina required to cope with these conversations is simply not worth the effort. Time becomes more valuable when it’s used to obtain the drug and enjoy its high.

But living in shame is not the answer in the long-run. It might work for a few months or a few years, but your mental health slowly breaks down from your shame and misery. All you’re doing is suppressing your drug use into your unconscious mind; you’re essentially building a ticking time bomb.

Then there are the people who don’t care about being ashamed of their drug addiction, because they prefer to just enjoy the high and ignore the consequences. This scenario too does not last very long. Eventually the risks outweigh the benefits (getting high) and something always goes wrong.

Drug use has and continues to be associated with concealment and privacy. But it’s time to come out of the shadows and reveal your drug addiction to the world: “Hi. My name is Lisa and I’m a drug user.” “Hey. My name is Mark and I’m hooked on drugs.” We’re not attempting to embrace the use of drugs; we’re just attempting to initiate the first step much sooner, which is admitting to the world that you have a drug problem!

The stigma of drug use remains alive and kicking, but this is exactly what public enemy number one has been all this time. The war on drugs was a legitimate attempt by the U.S. government to help protect its people from the serious evil addiction to drugs. But the problem with the war on drugs is that it had the wrong enemy identified from the start.

The enemy of the people are not drugs. The enemy of the people is the stigma associated with drugs. Stigma is behind the secretive and allusive nature of drug use. Stigma is what keeps people in hiding and their drug use flourishing underground and well-hidden. If you eliminate the stigma, you eliminate an entire mindset that is associated with the use of drugs.

This is not in any way promoting the use of drugs. This is helping bring drug users out in the open in order to be exposed to help much sooner than perhaps “never later.” Exposure to treatment and support earlier in the addiction process has a much higher success rate than exposure later in the process.

Public enemy number one has been revealed. Are we ready to finally initiate the right war?

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

The Female Angel’s Warning

Salvia Divinorum

Salvia Divinorum is a psychoactive mint plant native to Mexico; the Mazatec Indians have used it for centuries for spiritual divination and shamanism. In present day, it is used as a recreational drug for its mystical and hallucinogenic experiences. It is not obtainable in all states; over half have made it a schedule I drug. The long-term impact of salvia use remains unclear.

Salvia is extremely fast-acting and has a low addiction potential and incidence of side effects. There are no reported overdoses. The active ingredient is salvinorin A, a kappa opioid receptor agonist. Kappa opioid receptors regulate human perception, which is exactly what salvia does to the user.

Mazatec Indians have referred to salvia as “Herb of Mary” and believe that the plant is an incarnation of the Virgin Mary. Salvia is usually smoked, with the hallucinogenic effects occurring within a couple of minutes; the experience lasts approximately five to ten minutes.

About 1.5% of 12th graders report using salvia. It is usually obtained on the internet or tobacco shops and is used out of curiosity, to get high, for spiritual purposes or for relaxation. Some common street names include Sally-D, Diviner’s Sage, Magic Mint and The Female.

The effects of salvia include:

  • Visual distortions of bright lights
  • Delusions (i.e. believing the laptop is mad at you because the lamp is shining its bright light on it)
  • Hallucinations (believing that you, the house and the grass outside are one, or believing that a female angel is telling you to put the bowl away)
  • Uncontrollable laughter
  • Recollection of childhood memories
  • Out-of-body experiences
  • Contact with entities or other dimensions
  • Loss of contact with reality

The side effects of salvia include:

  • Nausea
  • Confusion
  • Lack of coordination
  • Loss of memory
  • Tiredness

There are no current medical uses for salvia but current research is attempting to better understand how salvinorin A effects the brain and whether there is any potential for future medicinal use.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

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