How Does Addiction Start?

There’s this drug everyone talks about, and you just know that it will solve all your worries, insecurities, problems, and sadnesses. That’s how addiction starts, right? Actually, it’s not.

Addiction doesn’t typically start with a person searching for a solution through drugs. After all, a first-time user has no idea what a drug will make them feel like. So, they can’t reasonably have any expectations about its results. Instead, first-time users more often than not go into that first experience without any known expectations or a detailed plan of cause and effect. In fact, it’s usually quite the opposite.

What Triggers First-Time Use?

There is more than one scenario that can lead to first-time use, but imagine this: you’re a college (or even high school) student showing up to a party in Tempe or Scottsdale, expecting to do the usual causal drinking. You see someone with a baggie of white powder, and now all your friends are treating this white powder like the main event. That someone snorts something you’ve never seen but instinctively know is cocaine, and there are many more lines to go around. Your stomach sinks knowing you’re about to decide whether to use drugs or not for the first time.

Everyone has joined in, including your best friends. So, clearly, you don’t want to be the only one not trying it. As you’re thinking it over, your friend hands you a rolled up dollar bill. All the white lines are gone aside from the one that’s intended for you. So, you snort it as you wonder what it’s going to feel like. There’s that burst of energy – and you’re suddenly having the time of your life.

But then you come down. The drug wears off, and you feel sluggish. Has the party stopped? How much time has gone by? The music is still going, but you feel heavy, kind of disappointed, and overall just bad. You sit down to collect yourself.

A friend asks if you’re okay, but you don’t have the words to explain the peculiar way you feel. She passes you that rolled dollar again and pushes a new white line in front of you. You’re asking yourself if this is really what you need, and a friend tells you that another line of cocaine is just the answer!

It’s not something you crave. It’s not something you’re even entirely sure you want to do. But, you snort it because you want to feel that good feeling again. So, why not? And then soon after, there’s that sense of being on top of the world again.

It’s a Story that Happens Every Day

Maybe you won’t get addicted from that one night, but you could and often do. Pressure, especially in numbers, plays a significant role in the start of an addiction. You want to fit in with everyone else, and just not be the singular “no” in the room.

It’s easy to think it’s no biggie because it’s just once or twice. But, most people don’t change their friends quickly, meaning that you’re very likely to find yourself in the same group and doing the same things time and time again. Before you know it, you find yourself excusing drug abuse because you’re only doing it on party nights. Eventually, those party nights can become near 24/7 events though.

The Role of Dopamine

The problem with drugs is that your body becomes accustomed to its effects. Your brain is actually chemically altered by drugs as it attempts to adjust to the substance increasing dopamine* in your brain. Dopamine is that feel good chemical of pleasure that’s naturally released in very small amounts by basically anything you find pleasure it doing – from kissing and smiling to eating chocolate.

Drugs, however, don’t just let a little dopamine loose. It floods your brain with it, and, to compensate for frequent use, your brain will begin to produce less and less natural dopamine. Minus the naturally produced dopamine, you feel low, depressed, lethargic, and like your just crashing and burning.

So, you start remembering how good you felt with the drugs. The high of just feeling good and your body’s craving to feel better again leads you to the drugs. This is where drug abuse changes to drug addiction. You no longer take the drug to appease others. You no longer take the drug for the pleasure of it at the moment. You now take it because you crave it to feel stable and normal. You’re addicted.

Getting Help for Drug Addiction in Arizona

You can see how seamlessly that first use spirals into an addiction – that you could battle for a lifetime. Saying no to that first use is full of what ifs and wonder you can easily move on from by the next day, but the aftermath of addiction can be a lifelong journey of physical, psychological, emotional, financial, and personal agony. If you or a family member is affected by addiction, it’s important to get help for substance abuse treatment sooner rather than later. At Purpose Healing Center in Scottsdale, Arizona, we help adults of all ages to restore their lives with expert drug rehab and aftercare. Contact us today.

* Reference: Dopamine mechanisms of cocaine addiction