What is substance abuse?

Sometimes it can be good to take a little look inside and feel for your emotional life. Am I on the right track? Do I have the good feeling in my body that life can give? Am I living in a way that is good for me?

Some people find such questions searching, fun and good. Other people find questions like these very accusatory and upsetting .

Those who struggle with substance abuse may be in the last category. But what is addiction and how does it affect life? What is substance abuse in relation to addiction?

In this article, we’re going to take a look at drug addiction and strip that term down a bit. We want to give you, the reader, an insight into what substance abuse is and how this can destroy the lives of individuals.

What is addiction?

The human brain is always looking for pleasure and the feeling of reward. When we humans find an action that releases dopamine in the brain, we experience a feeling of happiness. We will feel this feeling again! Therefore, we tend to want to repeat such actions.

But the brain is not always able to distinguish good feelings from good actions . There are as many triggers as there are brains in the world. We react differently to the world we encounter.

Some well-known triggers are shopping, exercise, cleaning and eating. None of these activities are fundamentally negative. But they can become negative if people who experience these activities as stimulating and dopamine-releasing. It will be too much if they are unable to stop while there is still only use, and not abuse.

Is there a picture of addiction?

Let us give you an example. Jens likes to shop. He likes to spend a good thousand on a sweater, if he thinks the sweater is nice enough. He experiences a good feeling when he buys clothes he actually needs and wears. But he rarely buys more than he needs, and does not need to shop to get the feeling of happiness he seeks.

While Trond uses shopping as a method to lighten his mood . Trond buys clothes and shoes, even though he can’t really afford it. He likes the kick he feels when he puts on his new clothes.

If Trond is sad and has had a bad day, it always helps to go shopping. Trond trades a lot on credit, and knows that it is not wise. But he can’t stop. He so wants to feel the good feeling he gets when he shops, even if he can’t really afford it.

Seen from the outside, the difference in the action of Jens and Trond does not have to be perceived as so different. Both are happy to shop. Both buy new things and are happy about it.

It is the experience on the inside that determines whether you have developed an addiction to shopping for clothes or not.


What is drug addiction?

A type of addiction that many people know about and look down on is drug addiction . But what is drug abuse and drug addiction, really? Yes, that means not being able to stop using drugs .

Living with drug addiction means so much. Some stick to store-bought alcohol. Others switch to stronger substances. One can ask the question ‘what are drugs?’.

The answer is quite simple: all substances that affect, or can affect our senses, change our mood and give an experience of intoxication are drugs. All such substances affect the brain and change our experiences of the world and ourselves.

Being drunk can be described as a feeling of happiness and well-being . People suffering from drug addiction are searching for a freedom and joy.

When we talk about addiction to drugs and what drug abuse is, we are talking about thousands of different substances . Everything from sniffing glue under a bridge, to being a little too fond of your daily bottle of champagne, can be considered substance abuse.

Have you understood what substance abuse is?

We hope that you have understood that a person who is addicted to drugs is not a person who lives completely without free will and who cannot take responsibility. Being addicted to drugs makes it extremely difficult to choose what is ‘right’.

Theoretically, most people know what substance abuse is. But such dependence is expressed in many different ways and is usually hidden from the person concerned. Many drug addicts live in denial about their own abuse.

The abuse is not about the person not ‘bothering’ to stop drinking or using drugs, whether it is legal or illegal substances . It is not a matter of willpower to be able to say ‘no’.

Drug abuse and addiction is a complex expression of a person’s overall experiences, choices, life history, family history and everything else that makes the person unique. It is not possible to define substance abuse or set up a checklist that gives you a ‘correct’ answer with two lines underneath.

An important question that can be used in working with those struggling with substance abuse is not why they cannot stop drinking or using other substances. It may be asking yourself what the addiction does for them , and why they have become dependent on such a mental escape in the first place.