Why People Turn to Drugs Instead of Seeking Help

Why People Turn to Drugs Instead of Seeking HelpDrug abuse is a national epidemic. In the year 2013, roughly 9.4 percent of Americans – or 24.6 million people over the age of 12 – used an illicit drug in a given month, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. This number rose from 8.3 percent of the population in 2012.

Although addiction is on the rise, so is the number of rehabilitation programs and treatment centers. Resources for addicts to seek help are plentiful, so why do so many addicts choose to use drugs instead of getting treatment or simply not becoming addicted in the first place? The stigma surrounding mental health as well as drug addiction causes many people to start using, and addicts to continue using.

From a young age, we aspire to fit in and be accepted. This can be especially challenging for adolescents suffering from mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. According to NIDA, nearly 50 percent of all high school students will have tried an illegal drug by senior year. Although in many instances teens use drugs due to peer pressure or to sample a new experience, the hidden drive behind many drug users is the need to deal with mental problems that may seem isolating. Many teens are not open to talking about their mental health issues, and therefore seek an outlet in drug experimentation instead of seeking needed therapy or counseling services.

The stigma of drug addiction is damaging enough to deter many people from seeking treatment. Terms like “junkie” describe people “solely through the lens of their addiction or their implied personal failings. These word choices matter,” stated Michael Botticelli, the director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.

Language we use to speak about addicts – such as the term “junkie” – can be negative and damaging. The negative connotation surrounding drug abuse may prevent those who need help from seeking it, due to the fear or being criticized or viewed in a negative light.

Although some people may seem to be more likely to fall into addictive behavior due to their upbringing or socioeconomic status, those with mental disorders are often overlooked and left untreated. If as a society we aim to change the stigma surrounding mental health as well as substance abuse we will be able to reach more of those affected and provide the necessary treatment. Don’t be afraid to ask for help – treatment can change your life for the better if you go for it!


Did you know an addiction can be caused by a mental disorder?

One of the primary reasons that mental disorders and substance abuse so often go hand-in-hand is that drugs and alcohol can provide an escape from the pressures of mental health problems. Self-medicating is surprisingly common: you’re not alone.

But unlike real, effective, long-term solutions, such as medication and detoxification in a treatment center, drugs and alcohol won’t amount to effective treatment.

If you suspect that your loved one is suffering from addiction, then take our free 3 minute assessment.

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