3 Reasons People Turn to Substance Abuse & Addiction

It is interesting to work closely with someone and begin to discern the thought patterns that took place to hook someone with an addiction. Addictions vary but basically can be defined as chemical addictions and behavioral addictions. Why do people drink and do drugs, and how do some people become chemically dependent? I am sure there are multiple reasons, but they will probably fall into one of three general categories:

To Satisfy Peer Pressure

Peer pressure tells them it is the social thing to do. You may ask, “If they don’t want to do it, why are they there?” Probably because each of us has a need to be accepted and to have some sense of belonging. Many have testified that when they start to drink they feel the alcohol enables them to relate to others and feel more accepted. Often this ends up believing the lie that without a drink to dull their conscience and forget their problems and responsibilities, they can never have fun. Our ability to stand against peer pressure and resist the temptation and resist embarrassment any longer is dependent on how secure we are and how our basic needs are being met. This is probably the primary reason young people drink or take drugs.

Philippians 4:19 reminds us that Christ has promised to meet all our need according to His riches in glory. The world, flesh, and devil will use this outside pressure to draw many into bondage. Most people are driven to fulfill inner needs for acceptance and belonging. Many will compromise their own convictions to have these needs met. This pressure becomes greater with each day as the people who are addicted seem to glorify the pleasure of the addiction, but ignore the growing pain of the addiction. “Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season;” Hebrews 10:25

To Escape Life’s Pressures

“Souls on the streets addicted to sin, selling themselves to survive…” the song says. The second verse speaks of the pressures of life pulling the family apart. Steve Jobs, while speaking at a college graduation while sick with cancer, said, “life is not fair…just get over it.” But many people never really do. Instead, they create another avenue that brings relief.

They will drink or take drugs so it can relax them, and they can enjoy their families when they get home. Pressures of life can feel overwhelming. However, running away from life and responsibilities will only make the problems worse. “And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us” (Romans 5: 3-5).

At RU we want to establish hope for people, but too many people think that their jobs are hopeless, their marriages are hopeless, and their situations are hopeless.

I believe we can encourage people by highlighting and making a big deal out of the testimonies that God is clearly at work. The testimonies of the lives transforming are the most powerful voices on Fridays. They learn to live by the grace of God in spite of circumstances. Unfortunately, some choose to believe their hope lies in altering the circumstances. They drown their sorrows in booze and drugs and have never learned to cope with the responsibilities of life. One tragic result of alcoholism and drug addiction is that people who escape through these substances do not learn how to grow through the trials and tribulations of life. At RU, we call it Adversity University. I would encourage every leader to read that book with this title written by Paul Kingsbury and let its truths flow from you as the second talk is in action. The addict’s growth, character, and emotional development are dependent on students and leadership helping them understand the “no pain, no gain” concepts. We are supposed to cast all of our cares upon Christ because He cares for us (I Peter 5:7). It is through this yoke that we get to know Him and appreciate Him more.

To Stop The Pain

I have been amazed to meet so many people that are surprised by their addiction, in particular, addictions to pain-relieving substances. Many people become addicted to prescription drugs because their physical pain is unbearable. Others add alcohol to their prescription painkillers. But, the physical pains we feel are not always the worse kinds of pain. The emotional pain of failure, rejection, loss of a loved one, etc. can be more devastating than anything physical. People often continue their addiction knowing they could lose their spouse, job, and ministry. They continue because it is the only time the pain actually goes away. But, the pain is only masked for a period of time, waiting to resurface and torment again.

Regardless of why people choose to drink alcohol or take drugs, each person with an addiction must come to acknowledge these things: Although they believe the lie that drugs will help, the chemicals they become addicted to will not meet their needs, enable them to cope, or resolve their conflicts. Their addictions only make matters worse.

The answer to all their needs is a dynamic walk with Jesus Christ! This is taught through the Overcomer and Stronghold courses of RU. We may not identify how these three areas are present in the life of a new student, but if you train your ear and ask the right questions, you will soon be confronted face to face with the lie they believed.

Do any of these apply to you? Here are some questions to ask yourself:

To Satisfy Peer Pressure

  • How long ago did you start this addiction you speak of?
  • Was there something before that introducing you to the current problem?
  • What are you seeking when you engage in this addiction?
  • What voice in your life convinced you it was ok?
  • What do you think this addiction does for you? Can we begin to search the scriptures and ask God how he desires this desire to be dealt with?

To Escape Life’s Pressures

  • What would you change about something in your past life if you could?
  • What would you change in your current life if you could?
  • What keeps you up at night?
  • What is some of your biggest frustrations currently?
  • As you get involved in the RU materials, how can the challenges help your views about life change and where can you find new strength?

To Stop The Pain

  • Tell me how you got started on this drug?
  • Is your pain really physical or is it inside?
  • What triggers make the pain worse?
  • What relief systems are you depending on?
  • Is it possible that you are using this as an excuse to mask the identity you have learned to be the safest for you?
  • How can the challenges and support group of RU help you find strength and encouragement to overcome this addiction?
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