In most cases, people do not try drugs for the first time because they merely had the idea to do so. In fact, because there is such a prominent stigma associated with drugs, many people are afraid of them. However, peer pressure is a common driving force that causes people to make questionable choices that are normally out of character for them.
What is Peer Pressure?
At the most basic level, Cambridge Dictionary defines peer pressure as a sense of urgency to behave like others in a group. In most cases, a person doesn’t necessarily want to behave like their peers. Rather, they feel the need to mimic others around them so that they aren’t perceived as being different.
In the case of drugs, many young people often feel pressured to try drugs along with their peers to maintain a “cool” image. After all, one of the most sought out feelings by humans is the feeling that they fit in somewhere, whether it be in a group of friends, in the workplace, at school, etc. However, young people are not the only ones subjected to peer pressure. Adults and even older people can find themselves pressured by peers in certain situations.
When people try drugs for the first time, their perception of the substance in question becomes less inflated. They become acquainted with the appearance of the drug, the taste or smell of it, and the way it makes them feel. In essence, they become more relaxed about the idea of taking the drug because they’ve tried it before. As a person becomes more relaxed about taking drugs, they place themselves at a higher risk for abusing them. It does not take long before an instance of being peer pressured to try drugs can turn into full-blown, habitual drug abuse.
What is Drug Abuse?
People often use the terms “drug abuse” and “drug addiction” interchangeably, but they carry two different meanings. Detailed by MedicineNet.com, drug abuse is a destructive process characterized by frequent usage of drugs. Drug abuse can cause problems on both minor and major scales in a person’s life, and it is often the stage that people find themselves in just before they develop full-blown addictions. Drug addiction is a disease that leaves a person physically dependent on a substance in order to survive.
Signs of Drug Abuse
It’s often hard to discern the signs of drug abuse in a society where drug/alcohol usage is rather commonplace. However, when drug abuse is ignored or dismissed as being trivial, the risk factor heightens for a dependency to develop. If you suspect that you or a friend/family member could be struggling with drug abuse, you can refer to this list of drug abuse signs offered by the NCADD:
- Sleep pattern and appetite changes
- Rapid weight gain or loss
- Disregard for personal appearance or hygiene
- Decline in performance in school/work
- Financial problems
- Staying socially withdrawn
- Engaging in risky behavior (fights, illegal activities, accidents, etc.)
- Heavy mood swings
- Problems with motivation or focus
It often does not take long for a person to make the transition from someone who occasionally or rarely takes drugs to someone who abuses them. In many cases, the downward spiral can begin with something as simple as an incident of peer pressure. If you or someone you know is struggling with drug abuse, don’t hesitate to seek help today. Anyone who shows signs of drug abuse is at danger of developing chemical dependency.