Social Aspects Of Drug Abuse And Addiction


A sense of belonging helps protect communities from the epidemic of drug abuse and addiction, but it is also worth looking at the social aspects of substance use.

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Creating relationships comes naturally to many people. However, some individuals struggle with developing emotional connections. This struggle can cause feelings of insecurity, depression, and anxiety. Some of these people become obvious loners, whereas others may mask their true feelings of doubt while adhering to their social standards. The feeling that you need chemical help to be social is one of the critical social aspects of substance use.
Typically, most people assume drug or alcohol addiction results from low morals, lacking character, or a series of mistakes. Thus they blame the substance user for their ailment. Although this perspective may not be entirely incorrect, it certainly does not help the one struggling with addiction. Thinking this way will only hurt their recovery chances and leave those trying to help to feel at a loss.

Addiction is not a moral failing or character defect. It is an illness. 

By looking at addiction in a new way and treating it like any other disease, our professionals can offer more effective treatment. There are many social factors that come into play when addiction occurs. Research has found socialization to be a large factor in recovering from a substance use disorder.  You do not need to struggle any longer, reach out to us at 912-214-3867. We have specialists that are happy to help and prepared to take your call. Learn what you need to start your healthier life today. 

Is Addiction Driven by Pleasure? 

There is one thing that everyone can agree on: having friends is a need. Along with food, sleep, and shelter, all humans need to be social with other humans. It is necessary for emotional comfort, growth, learning, and safety. When a community has those four traits, it will flourish. This sense of belonging helps protect communities from the epidemic of drug abuse and addiction. But it is also worth looking at the social aspects of substance use.  

The evidence connecting human relationships and addiction are more than circumstantial. These findings also discredit the idea of pleasure being a driving force in addictive behaviors.  

To summarize this information, Johann Hari, a British journalist, held a TED Talk discussing how everything we know about addiction is wrong. Passionately, he shares this information by citing research and emphasizing social relationships. An article on Psychology Today sums up his Ted Talk, saying: 

“British journalist Johann Hari discusses the available research into the underlying causes of addiction. He concludes, rather brilliantly, that the opposite of addiction is not sobriety, it’s connection. His statement echoes a theme that many 21st-century addiction specialists and I have supported for years. That is that addiction is not about the pleasurable effects of substances. It’s about the user’s inability to connect in healthy ways other human beings. In other words, addiction is not a substance disorder; it’s a social disorder.” 

Ultimately, then, addiction is a result of a lacking social connection rather than human weakness. If you, a family member, or a friend are struggling with addiction call us today. We have a team of experts ready to take your call. Call today and let’s get started on your road to recovery. 

A New Perspective 

This view of addiction is something many people, even doctors and health professionals, are not familiar with fully understanding. Scientifically, the pleasure-seeking argument makes sense. However, the article goes on to state: 

“ In general, people think that the pleasurable effects of alcoholcocaine, heroin, are the primary drivers of addiction. And why not? We know for certain that once ingested, these substances trigger the release of dopamine. Along with several other pleasure-related neurochemicals into the brain. In other words, potentially addictive substances make us feel good, and because we like to feel good, we tend to go back for more.” 

However, despite what many people think, the belief of pleasure being the driving force is false. Researchers know this by applying common sense: 

“Nevertheless, this long-held belief is incorrect. If it weren’t, then everybody who ever took a sip of alcohol would become a raging drunk. Everyone who ever ingested an opiate would end up in a back alley shooting heroin. But that isn’t even close to what happens.” 

If you need help with a new perspective, then call us today. Talk to some professionals about what you might need to start your healthier life. We are equipped with tools and information that can help you turn your life around.

The Rat Park Experiment 

What happens is a little more complicated than previously thought. To explain this, one need only look to Bruce Alexander’s Rat Park experiment. This study proves that the cause of addiction is more than just a dopamine pleasure response.

Before the official Rat Park Experiment, other studies informed our fundamental understanding of substance use. In these studies, rats had the option of drinking water or heroin-infused water. In the end, the rats chose heroin water and eventually suffered a lethal overdose.

After such a result, scientists assumed that when someone is in the presence of addictive substances, they are unable to control themselves. Nonetheless, Bruce Alexander found that these studies were missing one crucial detail. The rats had nothing to do other than drinking the water. Hence, addiction was practically guaranteed. When Alexander put together his study, he made his rat cage 200 times bigger than in previous experiments. With hamster wheels and toy balls to play with and food and extra space. Also, multiple rats were put into this larger cage, rather than just one, allowing them to socialize and have a sense of community. When he replicated the previous experiments by putting in water and heroin-infused water, the rats completely ignored the addictive substance. Proving that the old investigation had missed the crucial element of distraction and communal activities.

Ultimately, this study proves that an essential part of recovering from or avoiding addiction is a sense of belonging and socializing. Do you need support for an addiction? Call us today. We will guide you to get back on the right track. We are here for you and want to help you get your life back.

Addiction, Groups, and Social Identity 

Going off these findings, many scientists are researching the social aspects of substance use differently. Discoveries about the nature of addiction are helping providers treat substance use disorder. In another study, researchers note how treatment and relapse occur.  

“Various group and identity-related factors drive addiction and need to be understood and harnessed in treatment and recovery. Clinicians in alcohol and other drug-treatment services know that many people who seek treatment have tried to stop taking substances, often on multiple occasions, and then relapsed. Relapses particularly tend to happen at the time when people leave treatment and return to homes and communities where heavy substance use is the norm.” 

Interestingly, people who return home from treatment are at a high rate of relapse. This rate is a good indicator of what we might call the social effect of drug abuse. Researchers go on to state why this occurs so consistently: 

“Our need for belonging is strong: we cannot expect people to lose valued substance-using social groups and identities unless we help them to replace these with other valued groups and identities. For some, this means reconnecting with their former positive groups and identities – while for others, it means joining mutual support groups or therapeutic communities in which a recovery identity can become a ‘transitional identity’ between the user and the non-user identities.” 

In short, being a part of a social group is critical to us. However, for some, these social groups are negative influences, leaving these patients likely to relapse. In turn, repeated relapses create a cycle of addiction that can last a lifetime.  

Addiction Development 

Researchers also note the difference in how addictions develop in terms of personal identity. Specifically, they wanted to find the so-called “pathway” to addiction and why patients decided to enter rehab. This study states: 

“In summary, the current study found two social identity-related pathways into and out of drug and alcohol addiction. For some, associating addiction development with a loss of positive social identities. These people were motivated to enter treatment in part to restore their former social identities and roles. Others were socially isolated, and the addiction represented an identity gain. For this latter group, treatment required a giving up of the addiction to social networks and an aspiration to new positive social identities and roles.” 

As it turns out, personal identity plays a significant part in whether someone with addiction goes to receive treatment. Although recovery depends on whether you have nutritional support or need to remove yourself from certain opposing groups, the findings are significant. After gaining this new perspective, many providers have adopted a whole new way of assessing the social effects of drugs in drug abusers, thus gathering new concepts using to help in treating addiction.  

The gathering of all this information suggests that how we view ourselves and who is in our social circle determines a lot about our specific addiction. This claim goes back to Hari’s Ted Talk. Addiction is a social disorder. Nevertheless, many ask the question: Exactly what are the social effects of drug abuse and vice-versa? Do not suffer in silence if you have an addiction. Call us today. We will work with you to find the right treatment option for you and your situation. 

Social Pressure  

Recovering from drug or alcohol addiction requires a lot of patience, but many other factors determine whether someone sees a successful long-term recovery. According to this research study, peer behavior is a prominent factor: 

“Social factors are important in influencing entry into drug-addiction treatment, as well as for retention in treatment and ultimate recovery. . . In comparison with individuals who report fewer relationships with deviant peers, individuals who report more ties with deviant peers have poorer treatment outcomes, especially if those peers are also drug users and less supportive of treatment.” 

Therefore, many addiction treatment programs suggest traveling for rehab. To entirely leave addiction behind, one must go relationships and friendships that encourage addictive behavior. The study also states: 

“. . . this study’s findings indicate the importance of working with drug users located in the community (e.g., through street outreach or work in correctional and health care settings) about their perceptions of social supports and the development of support for treatment entry. This study links social factors in entering and leaving drug addiction. It finds people in recovery with friends still in addiction are more likely to have a less than desirable treatment outcome.” 

In summary, if someone wants to recover from addiction or a substance use disorder fully, they must eliminate negative social ties that cause pressure to use substances. In the end, this pressure can build to the point of causing a relapse. Do not let social influences be the reason you do not get the help you need. Call us today and we can help you beat those influences. Start your healthier and happier life today. 

Moving Forward 

All this research shows that there are significant social aspects of substance use and the importance of having positive social relationships and how identity can affect treatment. If you are recovering from addiction, be wary of who you become close to during recovery. Those relationships can make or break your recovery. Do not hesitate to get the help that you need today. If you are suffering from addiction, call our number today. When you do, you will reach an addiction specialist who can help you find a treatment program. Call today to end the suffering. Our team will work with you to overcome any obstacles. Call us today and we will ensure you start your path to sobriety.

Written by Michael Tavernier



Social Aspects Of Drug Abuse And Addiction


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