Programme: Six More Points about Drink, Drugs & Cigarettes

2. Why Do We Keep Wanting More?

Whenever we're talking about alcohol, drugs and cigarettes, the topic of addiction is never far from anybody's mind. Using these substances causes many people to keep wanting more and more. But why is that? And how come some people are able to consume them in moderation?

As you get older, chances are that you'll come into contact with drugs, cigarettes and alcohol at some time or another. You might be offered your first beer at a bar, or a sneaky cigarette at your friend's house. Due to being curious about what they're like or feeling pressure from your peers, you might decide to give them a try. A few factors will determine whether this one-time usage turns into habitual behavior. For a start, genes play a role. These determine how the rewards system in your brain – the part that allows you to feel pleasure – responds to positive stimuli. For some people, this system simply kicks in much harder than for others after they've used certain substances. And the greater the feeling of reward you get from drinking a beer, smoking a cigarette or taking MDMA, the more likely you are to do it again and again.  
Positive vs. Negative Usage
The other thing that affects your chances of developing an addiction is your reason for consuming drugs, alcohol and cigarettes in the first place: Is it positive or negative. A positive reason for consuming these substances is that they make you feel good and you enjoy using them. For example, you might decide to drink a glass of wine from time to time because you like the taste, because it makes you feel relaxed, and because it feels like a nice, sociable thing to do with your friends. A negative reason for drinking the same glass of wine would be that, instead of trying to feel good, you're just trying to feel less miserable. That might be the case, for example, when you drink around somebody who makes you feel uncomfortable, or if you're drinking to feel better after a terrible day. Using substances such as drugs, alcohol and cigarettes for negative reasons increases your risk of developing an addiction.

Reflect & connect

1. How did you first come into contact with cigarettes, drugs and alcohol? 

2. Are you somebody who consumes them in a positive way? If so, under what circumstances?

3. Do you ever consume them for negative reasons? If so, under what circumstances?

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