Socio-cultural Factors that Fuel Addiction

At first sight, it can sometimes be easy to dismiss addicts as socially inept people who can’t face responsibilities. However, like every other disorder, socio economical factors are often at the root of addiction.

After years of research, many experts agree that addiction, which used to be viewed as a sign of lack of self control, is more of a disease than a flaw of character. Also, scientists have discovered that many genetic markers could be at the origin of many addictions.

But while there is a biological and psychological aspect to substance abuse, the person’s environment may sometimes be a cause. Here are some of the socio-cultural factors that may trigger substance addiction.

Lack of Bonding

As you may already know, teens are often riddled with anxiety and can have difficulty socializing. And to relieve some of this stress, many youths decide to turn to intoxicants and even prescription pills for relief.

Alcohol, or “liquid courage” as some people may call it, has been used since the beginning of time for socializing, and it is still commonplace for friends and family to gather and share a drink together. In some ways, social acceptability is what makes alcohol so insidious as an addiction. Alcohol is viewed as a social lubricant for some, and people feel more comfortable when under the influence. They also tend to exert more confidence and sometimes become the complete opposite of who they really are in real life.

However, there are some downfalls to the use of alcohol in social interactions. For one, people might be inclined to make confessions they wouldn’t make normally, which could ruffle the feathers of some people. Also, alcohol has many adverse effects on the system and the mood of its abusers. Marijuana is also used increasingly as a social drug, but marijuana is also known to create paranoia in its users, and in some extreme cases, psychosis.

Stress Relief

It is no secret that most people in the western world have to deal with a significant amount of stress every day. Some people will refer to their drug use as an “outlet” or as a way to “let off steam”. While this may seem disturbing at first, this is a quite frequent justification for intoxication which could eventually lead to full on addiction.

Addicts then end up chasing their high and start losing grip on reality. Suddenly, everything they do is about the consumption and acquisition of drugs. As their problems keep piling up, they keep consuming their drug of choice as an escape.

However, many addicts find solace in other types of activities, such as hobbies, sports or volunteering. Others decide to take a more spiritual approach and take up yoga and meditation as an alternative. Many drug rehab centers in Florida try to take a holistic approach to rehabilitation and offer treatments that incorporate spirituality to give patients a different outlook on life.

A Need for Community

Another major social cultural factor that affects addictions is the sense of community it often builds among addicts. As a matter of fact, peer group characteristics are viewed as the number one contributor for cocaine and heroin addiction, followed by adverse familiar conditions and socio economic circumstances, such as homelessness for instance.

However, it is always better to build a solid peer group based on positivity and mutual support, without the use of drugs. One of the first things that is demanded of newly rehabilitated addicts is to either confront their peer group and demand change or find another one that will be more in line with their new lifestyle.

Sense of Rebellion

The use of drugs and alcohol, especially among adolescents, elicits a sense of rebellion against social norm. It is in many ways a cry for attention. Young people will often engage in risky and self destructing behavior as a way of “acting out” against authority figures and declaring their independence.

Many studies in fact have noted that many youths derive a sense of identity from their drug use. It is not uncommon these days to find kids referring to themselves as “stoners” and clearly deriving some sense of pride from it.

Dialectic Behavior Therapy is commonly used in many drug rehab centers as a way to satisfy the desire for rebellion in young kids. The method works by asking the patient to list activities that could be fun and viewed as a way to break a social norm, and eliminate choices one by one until they find an activity that will allow them to quench their thirst for rebellion without being harmful.

Addiction is much more complex than people think, and sometimes deep seated issues may be at cause. Understanding the background of an addict is essential to understanding their situation.


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