Social Use or an Addiction - Drug Addiction

It can be difficult deciding between something which is used on a casual basis or has become an addiction.

That odd glass of wine or two

The old saying ‘everything in moderation’  still holds true and it is the case that a small amount of something, for example alcohol or a couple of cups of coffee per week is not likely to cause any harm. In fact it may do you some good. One example of this is red wine which is considered to be good for your heart.

If we take this further, there is the case of the ‘French Paradox’. This expression arose from a research study carried out in 1992 which reported upon the fact that the French diet was high in fats yet they had a relatively low rate of heart disease.

Alcohol addiction is discussed further in our types of addictions section.

A cup or several cups of coffee a day

Caffeine is another substance which is fine in small amounts but not if taken to excess. It is a stimulant enjoyed by many people who like the fact that it acts as a ‘pick me up’ especially first thing in the morning! But excessive amounts of coffee will have a negative effect on your health.

Find out more about caffeine in our types of addictionssection. 

Nicotine and other drug use

Smoking and drugs in general are not considered good for your health irrespective of the dose.

The dangers of smoking are well documented and yet nicotine addiction is very difficult to break. Smokers argue that it helps them to relax yet the long term problems cannot be ignored.

Drugs such as cannabis or cocaine may ‘help’ in terms of an instant ‘high’ and an escape from reality but they are highly addictive and dangerous to health.

However there are people who argue that small amounts of cannabis are beneficial to sufferers of multiple sclerosis (MS) although this is not conclusive. Cannabis use is discussed in greater detail in our types of addictions section.

Performance-enhancing drugs

What about substances such as anabolic steroids or other performance enhancing drugs which are taken for purposes of increasing muscularity or athletic performance?

If someone uses these on an irregular basis then are they said to be an addict? We know that these drugs have side effects and in some cases, are fatal but people still continue to take them. A new trend has recently appeared in which women use drugs such as testosterone in order to boost their assertiveness and confidence at work in the hope of furthering their career. Testosterone is a male hormone which is responsible for muscle mass, lower body fat levels, sex drive, confidence and assertiveness.

This can be tempting to women who are trying to reach the top - the boardroom in male-dominated jobs.

Find out more about this and anabolic steroids in our types of addictions section.

When does casual use turn into an addiction?

If you use a substance on a social basis, are in control and don’t need it to function as a normal human being then it is safe to say you are not addicted.

But if you need a particular substance to satisfy cravings, prevent unpleasant withdrawal symptoms or as a means of coping with daily life then you need help.

It is often the case that an addiction develops from casual use.

It may be that you have strong enough willpower to stop your addiction but this is easier said than done. Some drugs such as cocaine, heroin or amphetamines are highly addictive and can lead to an addiction the first time they are used. They are dangerous as well as powerful and it takes more than willpower to stop taking them.

The first step is realising that you have a problem and then seeking treatment for it.

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