When Does Drug Use and Abuse Cross Over Into Addiction?

When Does Drug Use and Abuse Cross Over Into Addiction?


When does a person cross the line between drug use and abuse into addiction?  It can happen to anyone and of course it will happen to someone who is not expecting it at all.  No one chooses to become addicted to drugs and no one gives their permission for addiction to happen.  It just happens, and a fair amount of drug abuse has to occur in order for this to happen to someone.

One way to avoid addiction from happening, therefore, is to avoid abusing drugs.  But even this is not a surefire remedy for avoiding addiction, because some people will be off to the races the first time they try their drug of choice.  And their drug of choice may be perfectly acceptable, such as a glass of wine (yes, alcohol is a drug).  In some cases, a person completely hooked and is off to the races the first time they try a drink or a drug.  So the strategy of moderating drug use and intake is not necessarily going to prevent addiction from occurring.

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Creative Commons License photo credit: joguldi

What is the key to preventing drug use and abusing drugs in children and teens?  There have been huge efforts made in this arena and it remains a huge problem.  Scare tactics and trying to push the problem under the rug does not seem to work. Honest communication with kids and teens is probably the best strategy we have so far.  Talking with them honestly and letting them know the truth about your own past use is probably better than simply trying to scare them away from ever trying drugs.  The truth is that experimentation is going to occur, regardless of any scare tactics used.  So it makes sense to prepare teens for and encourage them to at least be responsible, given that they are eventually going to use drugs, alcohol, or both….at some point in their life.  Trying to ignore this fact is just setting them up for failure.

What are our best solutions for drug abuse when it comes to people using drugs and being out of control?  Drug rehabs and detox centers are one immediate solution, but they have drawbacks.  One, they are expensive, and two, the are frequently ineffective at changing long term habits.  Programs such as NA or Narcotics Anonymous attempt to provide a solution and many people do find recovery in them, but they are not a magic bullet for every addict.  In fact, most will fail who try to use a 12 step program to recover.  So we are still searching for the ultimate solution in recovery, and there may not be one.

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