What Do People Want From Using Alcohol & Other Drugs

In this Gorski Blog we’re going to continue to explore the remaining four things people want to get out of using alcohol and other drugs.  In the last blog we reviewed the first three.  1: To Get High, 2: To Relax, and 3: To Be More Social.

Fourth, some people use alcohol and drugs To Manage Feelings.  They may want to get rid of “bad” or uncomfortable feelings.  They may want to start feeling good, or they may want to make “good” feelings better. The mood altering effects of alcohol and other drugs make them perfect tools for managing feelings.  If you do not like the way you feel, relief is just a swallow away.

If you are addicted and do not like the way you feel, relief is just a swallow away.

The problem is this, when a person manages their feelings with alcohol and drugs, they have no need to develop or use other emotional management tools.  As a result, they need to use alcohol or other drugs in order to cope with any strong feelings.  One of the primary tasks in adolescent development is to learn how to responsibly manage strong feelings and emotions.  People who start using alcohol or other drugs on a regular basis during their teenage years never learn these skills.  Why work hard at learning how to manage feelings when a quick dose of alcohol and drugs will allow you to manage it with little or no effort?  As a result, most addicted people find it very difficult to manage feelings and emotions when they try to get into recovery.

Fifth, some people use alcohol and drugs To Get More Energy.  They want to get stimulated, feel excited, and be powerful.  The drugs that are most likely to produce these energizing effects are the uppers such as amphetamine and cocaine.  The problem here is that this drug induces a sense of power and it is a false sense of power.  You feel down on yourself, lonely, and weak.  Then you snort a line of cocaine or shoot up some amphetamines all of a sudden, you feel like superman or superwoman.  Are you really?  Of course not!. You are the same person you were before you took the drug with one very important exception, the drug is distorting your judgment and making you feel like something you’re not.  You are not stronger, tougher, or more competent than you were before.  You just feel like you are.  If you are dumb enough to put this drug-induced delusion of strength to the test, you will probably end up falling flat on your face.

Sixth, some people use alcohol and drugs To Block Out Pain.  They want to get rid of unpleasant thoughts, feelings, and memories.  The narcotic drugs, like heroin and morphine, are most likely to produce this effect.  The primary pain people want to escape from is emotional pain. This is because in using drugs to manage their feelings, they have never learned to manage emotional pain.  So whenever their feelings get hurt,  out comes the bottle or the needle or a line of coke.  Why?  Because the pain feels unbearable and they don’t know any other way to handle it.

Seventh, some people use alcohol and drugs To Be More Spiritual.  They want to alter their consciousness and have mystical feelings.

They want to be spiritually connected and learn to transcend themselves by connecting with some higher power, higher vision, or higher set of values.  They also want to feel closer and more deeply connected with other people.  The Mind Benders like LSD, and Ecstasy are most likely to produce this effect.  Once again, there is a problem.  Most drug induced spiritual experiences are not genuine.  They are merely the affect of the drug disrupting your brain chemistry in a social setting suggestive of spirituality.  The same is true of intimacy.  If two people take Ecstasy and fall in love with each other, they usually are not experiencing a genuine sense of love.  What they are experiencing is a shared love of the euphoric high that they are sharing in the moment.

Why People Keep Using Alcohol & Other Drugs

Why do people keep using alcohol and other drugs after they start?  I have asked addicted people this question for more than thirty years and come to the conclusion that people keep using alcohol and other drugs for one, and only one, reason – The drugs work!

Let me repeat that.  People keep using alcohol and other drugs because the alcohol and drugs work! They make people feel the way they want to feel.  This is what keeps people coming back.  Their drug of choice, whether it is alcohol, valium, cocaine or heroin gives them the mood altering effect that they want.  If it does not, they will not keep using it.

People keep using alcohol and other drugs 
because they work!

Not only does the drug work, it works quickly and reliably.  They get the effect that they want and they get it NOW!  What is even more important is that the drug is reliable.  It produces the effect they want every time they use it.  They come to depend on it.  My drug of choice gives me what I want when I want it.  There is no fuss and no muss.  I get pain-free pleasure right now, on demand, any time I want it.

If I feel bad or just want to feel better what do I do?  Do I go into therapy, work long and work hard trying to feel better without drugs?  Or, do I use my drug of choice and instantly get the effect that I want?

Let’s see…  I am feeling bad and I want to feel better?  What should I do?

Should I invest a lot of time and energy figuring out what is making me feel bad?  Should I then invest more time and energy figuring out how to fix it?  Should I then invest more time and energy in trying to fix it? Or, should I do all of this when I know that what I am doing might not work and that even if it does work, it will take a long time to make me feel the way I want to feel? Should I take something that instantly gives me the effect that I want with little or no effort?

Can you see why so many people decide to drink and use drugs?  They know that relief is just a swallow away.  They believe in better living through chemistry.  It is quick.  It is easy.  It seems painless.  Moreover, it works for them every time.  It gives them the effect that they want, when they want it without any real effort.