People who abuse alcohol or experiment with drugs do so because it gives them pleasure when they need an escape. The impulse control center of the brain kicks in and the abuser is usually unable to stop at “pleasure” and continues onto destructive behavior. The abuser also discovers that it takes more of their substance of choice to arrive at an adequate pleasure level.
Alongside the euphoric aspect of the substance are factors that keep the user coming back for more. One of these is the escape factor the substance provides. But why do substance abusers seek to escape through drugs and alcohol?
Addictive Personality Traits
Addiction treatment providers have long concluded that many of their patients have at least five addictive personality traits in common. These traits include:
- Sensation seeking
- Valuing non-conformity
- Social alienation
- Compulsive behavior
By examining these traits, it becomes clear why an addict would seek an escape through substances despite the negative effects.
Impulsiveness: This can be due to the broken impulse control center in the brain that medical science has recently discovered. Alcohol affects this center in heavy drinkers making abstinence difficult.
Sensation seeking: This trait can possibly be defined as the addict's very low tolerance for boredom.
Valuing non-conformity: When a person disregards the values held by society, it results in a mindset that addiction is not a problem. Conforming to social norms is of no interest to substance abusers.
Social alienation: Valuing non-conformity is right in line with social alienation, as both traits involve a penchant for deviating from social norms. Social alienation is a huge factor in seeking out the subculture occupied by those dependent on drugs or alcohol.
People who share a certain lifestyle stick together— in the case of substance abusers, they form their own subculture. Having a community of peers is usually positive, but this group is unable to function like most people in society.
Compulsive behavior: This last trait can be defined as persisting in activities even though this behavior results in negative consequences. Compulsive behavior, when coupled with the four aforementioned traits, creates an environment conducive to long-term addiction.
Due to these factors, alienated substance abusers often escape into the only world in which they’re comfortable—the inner self. Very few people can live a healthy life with only themselves in their world. The good news is, no one has to.
What do Rehabilitation Facilities Suggest?
The major points stressed by rehab clinics have to do with encouraging patients to:
- Get outside themselves - think about others
- Find any kind of social support - look for volunteer opportunities that involve people in some way
- Find any sort of activity that they can excel in - An activity that makes them proud and empowers them
The Human Element
Escape can be a very complex, sometimes beneficial experience for some. However, not all escapes are healthy for the mind, body, and soul. Escaping ultimately prevents us from healing through the human element of companionship. Addict or not, introvert or extrovert, loner or joiner, as human beings we all require support from other humans.