The compulsion to use drugs or alcohol can take over an individual’s life. Addiction often involves not only compulsive consumption but also a wide range of dysfunctional behaviours that can interfere with normal functioning in the family, the workplace, and the broader community. Addiction can also place people at increased risk for a wide variety of other illnesses. These illnesses can be brought on by behaviours, such as poor living and health habits, that often accompany life as an addict, or because of toxic effects of the drugs themselves.
Individuals who struggle with addiction did not set out to become an addict. For many, drugs or alcohol is a means of averting emotional and/or physical pain by providing them with a temporary and illusionary escape from or a way to cope with life’s realities.
An individual may try drugs or alcohol and the effects appear to solve their problem(s). They feel better. Because they now seem more able to deal with life, the drugs and their effects become valuable. They look on drugs or alcohol as a cure for unwanted feelings. The painkilling effects becomes a solution to their discomfort. This release is the main reason a person uses drugs or drink for a second or third time. It is just a matter of time before they cross the invisible and intangible line and become fully addicted and lose the ability to control their use. Excessive or continued use of physiologically habit-forming drugs in an attempt to resolve the underlying symptoms of discomfort or unhappiness results.
Over time, a person’s ability to choose not to take drugs can become compromised and soon enough they rationalise the need to use consistently and will do anything to get high. They are now caught in the vicious cycle of addiction to alleviate life’s pain and in turn creating more pain by using. They now display the physiological symptoms of addiction. They become difficult to communicate with, are withdrawn, and begin to exhibit other strange behaviours associated with addiction.