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How Quickly Can Abuse Turn Into Addiction?

How quickly abuse becomes addiction depends on the drug and the person. Everyone has different risk factors for addiction and different reactions to drugs. Some drugs are also more inherently addictive than others. For example, someone can become addicted to heroin or cocaine in just a few uses because they are highly refined, potent, and work directly on the dopamine system in your brain. When you can take a drug and instantly feel amazing, your brain quickly rewires itself to get more of the drug. On the other hand, most people can smoke pot many times and never become addicted.

It’s very difficult to predict how any given person will react to a drug. Some people try a drug, feel great, and want to do it again. Someone else may try it, feel terrible, and never be tempted to try it again. This is why psychiatrists and clinical psychologists often have to try several medications before they find one that works for a patient. A drug that works perfectly for one person might make someone else suicidal. Brains are complex and unpredictable.

Alcohol is an interesting exception because most people don’t like the taste of alcohol at first. They have to persevere to feel the effects. And even if they don’t particularly like feeling intoxicated, they may continue drinking out of social expectation. It may take someone years to become an alcoholic or it may happen quickly, but it’s not likely to happen in the first few drinks or first few times drinking. Despite this, alcohol remains the most common substance for which people seek treatment.

We do know some of the risk factors that make someone more likely to become addicted to something. Genetics is one important factor. If someone in your family has struggled with addiction, you might be at higher risk. This risk is compounded if you have a parent who is an addict or alcoholic and you have been exposed to that behavior from an early age. In addition to the genetic component, you have learned that addictive behavior is normal.

Mental health issues are another risk factor. People dealing with depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, ADHD, or antisocial disorders are far more likely to become addicted, which only makes things worse. These problems can also lead to problems at work or school, including problems concentrating or making friends, all of which are risk factors for addiction.

The final major predictor of addiction is the company you keep. If your friends abuse drugs, you are more likely to abuse drugs and possibly become addicted. In the same way alcohol is pervasive in our culture, if you are always around people who can give you drugs, you are more likely to use and become addicted, even if the first couple of times weren’t great for you.

If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, Gardens Wellness Center can help you  detox in a comfortable environment and take advantage of a variety of complementary therapeutic approaches. Call us today at 844-325-9168 or email us at to learn more.