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The introduction of drug addiction into someone’s life starts out with experimentation. People experiment with drugs for different reasons. The reasons vary from drug to drug, from person to person, or from occasion to occasion. A person may have more than one reason for trying drugs. People may start using a drug for one reason (curiosity, pleasure, social pressures, or for medical reasons) and may continue using it for quite another (such as tension relief or escape).
The United States has the highest substance abuse rate of any industrialized nation. Government statistics (1997) show that 36% of the United States population has tried marijuana, cocaine, or other illicit drugs. By comparison, 71% of the population has smoked cigarettes and 82% has tried alcoholic beverages. Statistics show that marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug.
A person may initially use a drug and keep using a drug because the effects are pleasurable or positively reinforcing. Examples of such reinforcing effects include: feeling "high", relaxation, disinhibition, relief from pain or tension, avoidance of unpleasant emotions, being able to sleep or to stay awake, and achieve enhanced athletic performance.
Drugs are talked and written about a lot these days. They are a frequent topic of conversation. Some people may have friends or acquaintances that use drugs illegally. Since curiosity is a natural aspect of human behavior, it is not surprising that many people, especially young people, are tempted to experiment with drugs, both legally and illegally. This becomes their introduction of drug addiction.
For most people, trying a drug for the first time is a major step. This is especially true for illegal drugs. Experimentation with drugs one time does not mean a person will become a regular user of drugs. However, it may remove some of the barriers against trying drugs again.
Statistics show that people who regularly use one drug are more likely to use other drugs as well. For example, regular smokers are more likely to be heavy drinkers than nonsmokers. Not surprisingly, there is also a high correlation between smoking tobacco and the use of cannabis. Also, those who’s introduction of drug addiction starts early in adolescence are more likely to develop drug problems later in life as opposed to people who begin smoking or drinking when they are older.
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