Does Every Drug User Become Addicted?

Drug use and addiction

Does substance use inevitably lead to addiction? No. A person will become addicted if and only if certain conditions or variables are given that allow the development of an addiction.

We will talk about addiction when we talk about dependence. This implies that the person relates to a substance based on a need. He needs to consume and if there is no substance he becomes anxious, irritated and suffers the symptoms of withdrawal. Let’s look at this in more detail.

The relationship between consumption and addictions

Let’s imagine a staircase with three steps. Each step is a different color. In the first, green, we have the use of substances. In this case we are talking about simple, non-problematic, sporadic consumption. This It does not present short or long-term difficulties and does not present very serious consequences.

The second step, yellow, puts us on alert. This is substance abuse that refers to a more complicated use. We can already think of excess, of lack of control and setting limits. It can be used occasionally but excessively. The substance abuser, after consumption, will observe some difficulties and unpleasant consequences. From drinking too much alcohol and making a mistake to causing an accident.

Finally, in the red step, the highest, we place the most problematic consumption, which is addiction or dependence. The object of the addiction becomes a priority in the person’s life. The need to consume leads the person to perform acts that in other circumstances they would not do. He thinks all day about consuming, works to consume, or steals to consume; In short, the addict lives to consume. The consequences are serious, on a personal level (physically and psychologically), work, family, social or legal. Starting treatment in this instance is essential.

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As we mentioned at the beginning, Not all those who make simple use of a substance will go to worse levels.that is, not every consumer will be addicted.

If the substance user goes up a notch, he will transform his simple use into something that borders on excess and risk. And if he goes one step higher, he will find himself trapped in himself, in his need to consume no matter what.

The staircase… unidirectional?

A person can stay on the first step without having problems related to consumption. Or go up to the second step and stay there, occasionally having problems with excesses and lack of control, or you can also keep moving forward and reach the top. This is the path of addiction, gradually ascending, so consumption is necessarily increasing. That’s the way up.

Regarding descent, there are different theories and models in recovery from addiction. On the one hand we have the risk and harm reduction modelwhich will help a person who has decided to consume to do so in the most responsible and careful way possible, without seeking abstinence as a goal.

From this model it can be thought that a person who has reached the level of addiction will be able to descend to the level of abuse and try to moderate it, and may even reach the first step, maintaining a simple and responsible use of substances.

On the other hand, abstentionist models They maintain that those who have reached the level of addiction and decide to recover cannot use again, not even in a moderate way. Doing so could mean losing control again and starting the path to addiction again. Therefore, following the idea of ​​the ladder, an addict could not go down to the second or first step. You should not directly approach or flirt with consumption.

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So, abstinence yes or no? As each case is unique, The recovery strategy will vary depending on the characteristics of the people and the type of link they have established with the substances. Therefore, there is no single method or model valid for all cases of people with problematic substance use. That is why the direction of the staircase will be defined by each person.