At some point, drug problems can turn into full blown addiction if a person is not careful, and in some cases this progression may be inevitable and just a matter of time. When someone continues to abuse drugs over a long period of time, the chances that they will become seriously addicted continues to rise.
One reason for this is chemical: as they continue to train their brain and their body that it should expect the drug, the body becomes more and more dependent on the drug over time. But another, more subtle reason for this is due to our emotional status: those who continue to abuse drugs over the long haul will cease to grow emotionally, and they will slowly come to rely on self medicating in order to deal with their everyday life.
This second reason can turn a drug problem into addiction in a hurry, so let us consider it more carefully. Take, for example, someone who is smoking marijuana every day. Now most people would dismiss this as being mostly harmless, and argue that marijuana is not addictive at all. They would point to the fact that anyone can just stop taking marijuana suddenly, cold turkey, without suffering any ill effects. They might also point out that there really is no risk of overdose when it comes to marijuana, and that the drug is relatively safe, even in large quantities.
This is a mistake, of course, and it also helps to illustrate exactly how a drug problem can spiral out of control. What happens is that a person who is smoking marijuana every single day will come to depend on it for emotional stability in their life. In other words, the person will not be able to handle regular, everyday stress, including emotional stress. They will come to rely on the drug in order to medicate these feelings.
The reason it can spiral out of control is that they will also start to build tolerance to the drug, and not be able to get as high as they once could. In stressful times, they may, at some point, look to “expand their buzz” by seeking out a second drug of some sort…be that alcohol, prescription pills, or other illegal substances. At this point, their need to self medicate has drive them beyond their original drug of choice, and now they will have a whole new set of problems to deal with once they start experimenting with a new substance.