ClickCease Why Do People Abuse Substances? - Granite Recovery Centers

Why Do People Abuse Substances?

Table of Contents

What Are Some of the Reasons That Cause People to Abuse Substances?

When we talk about substance abuse, many people assume it is all about individuals making the wrong decisions. However, most substance users are misidentified as people who lack direction in life and who do not deserve a second chance. Because of the stigma on substance abuse, victims who need help may be neglected, causing them to fall further into using substances. As awareness of substance misuse increases, we understand the possible causes and treatment approaches. Some people may be using substances to overcome life stress, to self-medicate mental disorders, or for misguided recreation. Regardless of such reasons, there could be factors that serve as a trigger for abusing substances.

Substance users are part of our society, and they could be our friends, family, or neighbors. They need help as much as any other person suffering from a chronic illness. Family members and loved ones of addicts do not have the professional capacity to assist them; therefore, it’s best to seek help from recovery centers. At Granite Recovery Centers, clients get access to medical detox and rehab programs as part of the recovery process. You will get full-time professional assistance and access to aftercare programs that will reintroduce you back into society.

Why Do People Abuse Substances?

Before we explore the treatment and recovery processes, let’s look deeper at why people abuse substances. It is critical to understand that some of these reasons are caused by emotional, psychological, and physical factors.

Emotional Factors

Some users hope to escape from reality, suppress pain, and cope with stress. People don’t want to face painful memories and problems in their lives, so they use substances to numb their pain and provide relief. In addition, some users choose substances to cope with loneliness, depression, or suicidal thoughts.

Psychological Factors

Some people who abuse substances have psychological problems. These disorders could be anxiety, stress, PTSD, ADHD, bipolar disorder, and depression. Also, the users could be seeking an escape from reality. Psychological disorders may be caused by physical factors such as the brain not functioning correctly because of the changes in neurochemicals.

Physical Factors

A person could abuse substances because of an underlying medical condition such as pain or disease. Some people may suffer physical withdrawal symptoms if they don’t get their medications prescribed by doctors.

People with mental health disorders tend to be at higher risk of substance abuse. They usually engage in this behavior to cope with the pain and suffering that they experience daily.

Causes of Substance Abuse

There are different reasons for substance abuse, ranging from an individual’s genetics, peer pressure, work-related stress, and mental health issues. Here are some of the common causes of substance abuse.


Some people are genetically predisposed to misuse substances. These are individuals from families with histories of drug or alcohol abuse. If you’re part of this category, your addiction is unlikely to go away without treatment. You could check out some residential drug rehab centers within your area to get full-time care. These centers may offer detoxification, therapy, and coping skills to help your recovery.

Brain Chemistry

Some people with psychological disorders develop substance misuse because of biochemical imbalances in their brains. They experience cravings, which leads them to continue using substances despite knowing the potential harm to their bodies. It is difficult for people within this group to recover without professional assistance, and some may become addicts.

Environment and Upbringing

A person could abuse substances if they have problematic relationships with family members, peers, and other people who play significant roles. Some people grow up with these patterns and continue abusing substances because it helps them feel better about themselves. Still other people who develop substance use disorders do so because they come from environments where substance abuse is normal, so when they are growing up, they see substances being used, so they perceive this as normal.


Some people use substances for lack of something else to do when they experience stress in their lives. It could be work, relationship issues, social interactions, or problems at school that contribute to this kind of stress in individuals.

People under stress from school or work could be at risk of developing a substance abuse disorder. Studies show that working full time and not having enough time to socialize or to make friends could trigger substance abuse among college students.


If you’re living with trauma, you could begin to use substances to get away from the pain. Also, a doctor may prescribe anti-depressants to boost your morale. If you fail to follow the prescription directions, you might be at the risk of becoming an addict.

If you’ve experienced trauma, the loss of a loved one, or other painful experiences, you might turn to substance abuse to escape from the pain. You may use the substances for this reason or do it because you feel that it’s the only way to cope with the pain of your trauma.

Similarly, a person could become dependent on substances if they had a difficult childhood. They might develop a psychological disorder in adulthood because of their experiences, and they may be using elicit substances to cope with their feelings.

Peer Pressure

Some people believe that taking drugs could get them accepted by peers or increase the overall appeal of their personalities. These are some of the common motivations for using substances at a young age. There is a well-documented link between using substances at an early age and developing a substance use disorder later in life.

People also use legal substances such as alcohol or marijuana as a means of socializing with their friends. If drugs or alcohol are always around and are always being consumed, it’s more likely that a substance use disorder could develop.

Mental Disorder

Many people with mental health disorders struggle with depression, anxiety, and other emotional disorders, leading to substance abuse. Because of this condition, they may be at higher risk of addiction.


Distressing experiences could lead to isolation, which is another reason that people develop addiction problems. Psychological problems and other life stressors make it hard to control your emotions, and you can use substances as a means of coping with them rather than seeking professional help.


You could also experiment with substances because you’re curious or try them out of boredom. People sometimes try drugs to feel a new sensation that they haven’t experienced before, but they become addicted to the substances. Some people try drugs because drug use is glamorized on TV, in movies, or in music.


It’s common for people to gather with their friends and to “blow off some steam” with their friends by going out drinking or doing drugs. At almost any social event, alcohol is available, and marijuana is legal in a number of U.S. states. When it’s acceptable to ingest substances, it can be easy to develop an addiction.

The Shift From Substance Abuse to Addiction

The shift from substance abuse to addiction occurs when there is a significant change in the mindset of an individual. Substance abuse typically begins as a temporary fix for mental health problems. Later, it becomes chronic and leads to the habitual use of substances.

The affected might develop a tolerance for drugs and alcohol with time, which means they will need a higher dosage to produce the desired effects. Some may even start experimenting with other drugs to achieve this goal. You should also note that addiction leads to physical dependence.

We can also see that substance abuse and addiction are different. Substance abuse refers to the everyday use of substances. There are no defined criteria for this form of use. On the other hand, addiction refers to a severe illness that causes great harm and impacts their lives in many ways.

Treatment for Substance Abuse

If you think you might be addicted to a substance, it is essential to find help. The best method for treating substance abuse is to seek professional assistance. Rehabilitation will teach you healthy ways to manage your recovery. The process typically begins by identifying the underlying issues that could be the reason for your addiction. In the second stage, you will learn what caused these conditions and how you can positively deal with them. You may also get psychological assistance in this period. The purpose of this is to help you identify your emotional problems and develop coping mechanisms.


Detoxification is considered the first step to drug and alcohol rehabilitation. Detoxification helps you get rid of the remaining toxins in your body. It also allows you to stabilize your mental and physical health before beginning inpatient treatment.

Cognitive-behavioral Therapy

Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a type of treatment that teaches people how to identify their emotions and respond positively. It will help them stop using substances, change their behavior, and avoid risky situations.

Contingency Management

Contingency management is an approach to drug and alcohol rehabilitation. It involves motivating incentives and consequences to help people stop abusing substances. The motivations are given at stages considered progressive to reframe attitudes and behaviors in treatment.

Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy

Rational emotive behavioral therapy is a practical and valuable treatment in addiction rehabilitation. It improves self-control and helps people change their behavior by identifying the thoughts and feelings that drive them to addictive activities.

The treatment of substance abuse can be long and difficult. Lots of patience, energy, and commitment are needed to work through these issues successfully. The best approach is to cooperate with your doctor throughout the process, which will benefit your recovery. If you need a safe environment for your treatment, contact Granite Recovery Centers to schedule an appointment.