9 Reasons Why People Use Drugs and Alcohol

The reasons why people use drugs – A quick overview

Many people have never experienced addiction of any sort. For these people it can be very hard to understand and grasp the logic behind drug abuse. But with drug use getting more and more prevalent in America, it’s now common for people to dig deeper and look for the reasons why people use drugs and alcohol. This is not meant to be a complete list, nor is is meant to be medical advise, but I feel this article can shed some light for addicts or family members of addicts dealing with this burning question…

 “Can someone please explain to me the reasons why people use drugs?”

This list has been compiled from 13 years of personal experience watching my close family member struggle with the darkest moments of addiction. Many times I asked and prodded to get answers from my sister who was addicted to drugs. She didn’t always have the answers – but she still taught me. The important thing that I learned is that drugs alter the thinking patterns in your brain which can distort logic and rationality. Therefore an addict may not fully understand what a sober person can. So most of my analysis came from observing her behaviors. So here is my list regarding the reasons why people use drugs and alcohol.

1. People suffering from anxiety, bipolar disorder, depression or other mental illnesses use drugs and alcohol to ease their suffering.
Mental illness is such a burden for some people they will try just about anything to relieve the pain. Drugs or alcohol can temporarily make that person feel ‘normal’ again, like they remember feeling in the past. Mental illness is scary for the individual experiencing it, so they are afraid to go to a doctor or family member for help and instead turn to drugs or alcohol to try and solve the problem on their own.

2. People see family members, friends, role models or entertainers using drugs and rationalize that they can too.
As teenagers and young adults, it’s very easy to think that drug and alcohol use can be handled and controlled, especially if they see others they know doing the same thing. It can become easy to rationalize like: ‘hey my friend’s been doing this for a couple years and he seems fine to me.’ Entertainment and music is full of drug references and that can add to the rationalization that drug use is ok sometimes. Individuals with a family history of drug or alcohol abuse are far more likely to develop an addiction than an individual with no family background of addiction.

3. People become bored and think drugs will help.
Boredom is a big factor in drug abuse in teens and young adults. People in this age bracket generally don’t have bills, jobs and all the stresses that go along with adulthood. So it’s easier to become bored and want to try something new and exciting. Drug use is often thought of as a way to escape the mundane world and enter an altered reality.

4. People think drugs will help relieve stress.
Our modern world is full of new strains and stresses that humans have never experienced in the past. Although many things in life are now easier than ever, the burdens are also very high. Simply having a family, maintaining a household, and holding a job are huge stress factors. Some drugs are viewed as a means of relaxation – a way to calm the storm in your mind. Although drugs can be very effective at doing that, there can be serious side effects.

5. People figure if a drug is prescribed by a doctor, it must be ok.
It is easy for an individual to rationalize using a drug because it came from a doctor. The thinking goes like this ‘it was prescribed to someone I know for the same problem I am having, so it makes sense it should work for me too.’  The dangerous part about this rationalization is that this can lead to mixing of drugs, overdose, unintended side effects and/or dependency.

6. People get physically injured and unintentionally get hooked on prescribed drugs.
The people at risk for this are physical laborers, elderly, and anyone with pre-existing injuries. Some people are born with chronic pain due to deformities – others get injured. Doctors then prescribe drugs for what they are intended for and a person can quickly build a dependency. Especially if that drug is making them feel all better, they rationalize that it must be ok to keep taking the drug, which can result in dependency.

7. People use drugs to cover painful memories in their past.
Many people go through extremely traumatic events in their life, many times as children, and turn to drugs to cover the horrible memories. Children are extremely susceptible to trauma, whether physically or emotionally, and those feelings can haunt them into their adulthood. These people could benefit from working with psychologists to help repair their damaged mind. Drugs usually only deepen the issue.

8. People think drugs will help them fit in.
When hanging out with friends, it’s easy for people to want to fit in and seem like one of the crew. If others are drinking or doing drugs, it’s very likely for someone to fall into that trap. Peer pressure can be a tremendous force causing someone to try things they would normally not try on their own.

9. People chase the high they once experienced.
Ask anyone who has tried drugs and they will tell you that it is one of the best feelings of their life. The highs from drugs are so much more extreme than regular everyday joys because most drugs overload the pleasure sensors in your brain. Once a person feels this extreme pleasure, it’s common for that person to become hooked on a drug simply chasing the initial high they once felt. As we all know, this is a viscous cycle that is extremely difficult to break. The highs are equally as powerful as the lows felt when coming off of the drugs.

By: Nate Blair (Jennifer’s brother)

This article can be found on ezinearticles.com – 9 Reasons Why People Use Drugs and Alcohol.


  1. says

    I am 99% positive that I knew your daughter at least in passing in the late ’90’s.

    Your points #8 and 6 both pertain to me..

    When I was younger I didn’t always fit in very well with the kids.. come high school (I think I was a Junior at the time) one of the “popular kids” in one of my classes had some tin foil and I noticed he was looking at it a lot. I asked him what it was and he told me it was acid.. Well.. wanting to fit in with the cool kids I automatically asked him if I could do some with him (I had never even taken a drink of alcohol at that point). After that I was hooked.. I don’t think I was ever really addicted to one particular drug.. but I was addicted to the whole party aspect of doing them.. the feeling that everyone around you accepts you for “who you are” even tho they are really accepting you because you are partying with them. After I graduated from High School I got in way deeper.. I found the Rave scene in Tampa and next thing I knew it was Ecstasy and Cocaine and whatever else.. this phase in my life lasted for about 10 years.. I partied everywhere in the country.. literally.. I got so into it that I was putting on raves in LA one summer.. then Chicago the next.. did it in Baltimore and NYC..

    Then I met my wife.. I am not quite sure what happened to me.. but the moment I met her I knew she was for me.. I got off drugs for many years once we got together.. at least no where near the amounts I had been doing before that.

    About 3 years ago I needed back surgery (I have actually had 2 back surgeries now and countless injections) In the mean time I started taking opiate pain killers in order to manage the pain.. This is the one class of drugs that I have never had a run in with.. never did the Heroin thing and prescription pills weren’t heavily abused when I was partying back in the 90’s.

    Now if I don’t take my meds (I have tried to quit cold turkey a few times) I get deathly ill.. like to the point that I honestly can’t stand it. So.. even tho it is prescribed by a doctor and I take them the way I am supposed to I am still addicted to them. My pain doctor tells me that I will be on opiate pain killers the rest of my life.. I guess that is the plan.. the drug companies are getting rich while America is stuck addicted to their poisons..

    I am very sorry about your daughter.. I saw her picture on Facebook and immediately was like “I am 99% sure I knew her”. I would have known her while she was partying of course.. but she always seemed like a pretty happy person with a wonderful life ahead of her.

    My deepest condolences..


  2. says

    I realize that life has it’s many challenges and also that mental illness plays a large part in people who are self medicating with illegal drugs. Seems they get worse as time goes by because the drugs they take impair their connections with others even further. I met a man who seemed to have an unusual personality but I did not think too much of it – just that he was a little eccentric. We are both grown people. Initially this person was warm and friendly. As time wore on another side emerged. He admitted his drug use and it seemed like he was trying to make a change. However that did not happen, at least during the time we were together. I tried to help as best as I could, but the relationship completely deteriorated. I think prolonged drug use has very serious consequences on interpersonal relationships. This a very painful path to go down.

  3. Barbara Ellen says

    This is a great article. Certainly, includes all the reasons I started using drugs. I got introduced to Vicodin after a number of surgeries. When I took the first one, I just felt “right.” I suffer from depression and I thought I had found the best anti- depressant in the world. Until opiates no longer worked and I had lost so many things. I’m 8 months clean now. I was one of the lucky ones. I have many friends who died from this disease. Keep up the good work.“Thank you Jennifer for all your work.”

  4. Carole Thomas says

    We lost our daughter Sara in 2013 when she was 25 yoa. She used for 11 years. In and out of rehab, and jail once. She tried all kinds of drugs. She couldn’t break the bondage. She didn’t want to use but stated she couldn’t stop. I feel like such a failure as a parent and will never forgive myself for listening to everyone’s advice about “tough love”. That’s b.s. My “tough love” caused me to side with my husband bc he wanted to be “on the same page”. He once said “I don’t care what she’s doing as long as she doesn’t bother him”. Now she’s gone and I still don’t think he gets it. Yeah he feels guilty but so what. Sorry means nothing. I will never fully understand what was really bothering her enough to self-destruct her life since age 14 with her first suicide attempt by OD of tylenol PM. I guess that is what drugs do, lead to despair and total lack of self-esteem. It is absolutely the saddest thing in the entire world to watch your daughter be lowered into ground. I hope people realize that addiction of any kind is life and death and not alot of addicts make it.

    • admin says

      Dear Carole,

      My deepest condolences to you and your family at the passing of your daughter, Sara. I too have a daughter with that same name (Sarah). Addiction is a mystery disease to those of us who do not suffer fromaddiction. We try and understand it but it is still hard to feel what they feel and know what goes on in their mind and how powerful the addiction really is. That’s why I fight for help, intervention and treatment. Please know I understand your pain because I have lived it. May God bless you with his mercy and peace.

      Sharon Blair

    • says

      thank you, for your comments on “tough love”. I too kept hearing it, and I was tough, too. And lost the relationship also. I think tough love requires a balance, a fine balance that is also tough to find, but Worth it.
      thank you to the Blair family for your strength through you difficult time of loss, to provide for others with this campaign and with this great information.
      Janet B., recovering from the relationship

  5. Lea says

    I need help i dont knw how i wil get thru life i want to be a normal person inside my soul im suffering 4 a cure.it hurts knwing and realising im a meth addict..bt everyone think im clean.

  6. Mike Miller says

    I want to get off drugs myself, because of my health problems, but I live in a small town, and help is not available.

    • says

      there is always help even in small town I live in a small town and my brother does drugs and he says he want to quit so we took him to a place 30 mins away from where we live and he was living I suggest that you talk to a preacher or pastor that lives in your town a lot of times they know of somewhere near you or around you to get help my dads a preacher. so you can asks them I wish you luck God bless great work on this site help me with my paper on drug abuse.

  7. carol says

    mental health is an illness .drugs are a choice .i am mentally ill and do not like being told i am likely to take drugs.i do not like being compared with those people some people are ill .drugs is a choice same as alcohol.

    • admin says

      Carol, A substance use disorder is a mental health issue. Many people suffering from SUD also suffer from a dual diagnoisis of mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, bi-polar etc. The use substances because they are suffering from mental health issues and self medicate. They need professional help just like any other person who has a mental health issue.

  8. Rob says

    Never ignore learning difficulties in young people grades k-12. Just a quick explanation, my learning difficulties went on untutored through my school years… my parents just seemed to hope that one day, my skills would improve, but they didn’t. Report card time was always a difficult time for me as I always disappointed, yet I was always able got squeak by with a passing grade C-.
    Year after year, all of my helpless disappointment at home led me to become rebellious and carry serious feelings of insecurity/inferiority toward my peers… and there’s where I sought an escape route via alcohol & substance.

    Grandparents & parents, get involved with the activities of your young ones, a learned kid is typically an esteemed kid.

  9. says

    I am the manager of a halfway house/wellness centre in Somerset West, South Africa and will be staging a symposium on 19 February 2015 regarding drug addiction. Knowledge is power and I hope these 9 reasons can help creating awareness in our community because pre caution is most certainly better than after care. Thanks for the article

  10. Lgarcia says

    My brother has been a drug addict for 7 years. He is 19 years old. I am thinking of filing a petition to baker act him, however it is only for 72 hours that they do the evaluation and let him go. Drugs are already stopping him from thinking as a normal person and can no longer be left alone. He doesn’t want to admit he has a problem. How can I help him?

    • admin says

      I would recommend filing a Marchman Act petition which specifically addresses substance addiction issues and need for involuntary commitment. I am working on The Jennifer Act (improving Florida’s Involuntaty Commitment procedures) but for now that is what is offered in Florida for Substance addiction and those who need treatment but refuse to get help. I hope this helps you with your brother.

      Sharon Blair

  11. Deborah bastable says

    My son died in a rehab in Arlington Virginia. It is a long sad story and started in 2006 . He became addicted to pain killer after 13 days in the hospital. Six years and treatment centers for days at a time we finally were able to get three months treatment but was injured in the faucility . He died that evening in the rehab of an overdose..

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