Experimenting with drugs and alcohol can quickly go from fun to an addiction, but how do you know?
There comes a point in many young peoples lives that they consider experimenting with drugs and alcohol. It is important to understand how harmless experimenting with drugs could lead to an addiction. You don’t always know you are going to become addicted when you begin experimenting with drugs. It is vital 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. Does that mean the only way to know you are an alcoholic or addict is by experimenting? Not exactly.
There are many signs that you could have the “addiction gene.” The addiction gene is like any other gene, it just chills in your DNA waiting to come out, and maybe it has before in other ways like a food addiction or a shopping addiction. If it has remained dormant and you have never said the words “oh my gosh I am so addicted to (insert word here)” then there are some other signs you should refrain from experimenting with drugs or alcohol. Some key examples are if you have any 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. The most effective way to remain not addicted to drugs or alcohol, is to not do drugs or drink alcohol, which may be a little unrealistic.
So, you decided to gamble and experiment one or two times with your friends.
It was fun. You felt free and happy for the first time in a long time. But you don’t really think about the drugs or the alcohol again, you know it was expensive to go out with friends and don’t have much money laying around to do it all the time, plus you have class and your recreational flag football team. Then about a month passes and your friends want to do drugs and drink again, you say sure, why not?The next weekend comes, and your friends want to do drugs and drink again, you say sure, why not? Now getting drunk and high is part of your weekend routine. 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 the things you have to, like your relationship, work, homework and that recreational football team.
This next step in the cycle is where experimenting becomes addiction. It happens very gradually, then suddenly, and your stuck wondering, “How did I get here?”
You start using drugs and alcohol every day, at first with friends then alone. Every dollar you make at work goes straight towards your next high. Your relationship is over, heck most of your friendships are over. Your lifestyle has completely changed, you don’t care about class or that team, or even your personal hygiene or nutrition. All you can think about, even in your dreams, is getting high and drunk. 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, and this is how experimenting with drugs and alcohol can kill you. 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 went from experimenting with drugs to a problem with drinking or drugs, know that help is always available. Our trained staff is available to talk on the phone or online 24/7. Full recovery is possible.