Having many friends who have become addicted to some sort of drug whether it be alcohol or nicotine, it has been hard understanding why this happens. I always thought that it was one hundred percent their choice on whether or not they could stop using. After learning about drug abuse, withdrawal symptoms, dependence, and cravings, I know that once people start using it isn't as easy to stop as some might think.
My best friend Stephanie grew up in a family with an alcoholic mother who physically and mentally abused her. Eventually she moved away to live with her father and step-mother in hopes to have a better future. Her freshman year of high school was her worst in terms of drinking. One night she drank so much that she went unconscious and an ambulance had to be called. I just couldn't believe that she had let it go so far especially since she has seen what alcohol has done to her mother and their family.
This class opened my eyes into what goes on in someone's brain and body when they are addicted to alcohol or any drug for that matter. I learned that genetic factors play a key role in the vulnerability to alcoholism. So, Stephanie always had a greater chance of becoming an alcoholic than someone whose parents or family members didn't have a problem with alcohol. Once someone becomes addicted to a drug they build up a tolerance to it so that they need greater quantities to achieve the same effect. As the tolerance is building, the harder it is to stop using even for a few hours or a day. This is due to the body's withdrawal symptoms and cravings. Right when you stop using or go off your pattern of using, your brain sends signals to your body saying that you want the drug, in Stephanie's case alcohol. Second, if you deny that craving and still don't use then your body reacts through withdrawal symptoms. These are unpleasant effects of reducing or stopping consumption of the drug that the person had consumed habitually. These genetic factors, cravings, and withdrawal symptoms make it nearly impossible to stop drinking unless you have a strong support system and get professional help.
In Stephanie's case her father and step-mom were not very supportive of her in general. Stephanie did get better for a little while as she stopped drinking for about a year and a half. But with this reduction in drug use came about more problems such as anorexia and depression. Once again these problems were not looked at as a medical problems that needed treatment by her parents (which it should have been), but it was seen as Stephanie's fault.
Witnessing Stephanie go through problems with alcohol I realized that you can't always blame addicts because it is harder to stop consumption once you start. The psychology concept that has impacted me the most in my life personally is drug addictions and the reasons behind them. Since I already have used this knowledge in my life I think this is one of the things I will remember five or even ten years from now. I also think the concept of nature and nurture can tie into drug abuse which I can also see being important in my future.