Friends & Family Can Contribute to Drug Addiction

There is truth to the expression, “One rotten apple spoils the whole barrel.” That’s because ripe apples produce ethylene, a ripening agent. When you store apples together, the ethylene prods other apples to ripen further and eventually rot.

It takes a single apple to start a domino chain that ruins the rest of the bunch. And guess what? The same holds true for drug users. You’re very likely to abuse drugs when you hang out with people who abuse drugs. Not because of weak morals, but because of several mechanisms that we’ll cover in this article.

Understanding addiction

The initial decision to use drugs or alcohol is voluntary for most people. However, repeated use changes the brain in ways that make it hard to quit, even for those who want to. Those recovering from a long term substance abuse disorder have a higher risk of drug use, even after years of leading a sober life. This is especially true if they’re dealing with mental health problems or are hanging around places or people connected to the addictive behavior.

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Friends or family members, who participated in the addictive behavior, are potential triggers for relapse, irrespective of whether or not they’re still using drugs. That’s because they bring back the memories of addiction. In some cases, they may ask you to go out or even tell you stories and share images of their happy moments in your absence. All these can lead you back to addiction.

But relapse is not the only way friends can contribute to drug addiction. This article will discuss different ways friends can worsen your drug use problems. But before we do, let’s look at the relationship between peer pressure and drug use.

Social learning theory

Social scientists who study peer pressure see it through the lens of social learning theory. According to this theory, when people observe other people’s behaviors and reactions using addictive substances, they may wish to replicate what they saw. For example, an agitated friend walks into the room.

They then sniff cocaine or smoke meth. After a few minutes, they’re relaxed and fun to be around. The person observing all this will know that the drug is a good way of coping with stress – because it’s what they’ve seen. So, any time they feel stressed or agitated, they may use the drugs to calm down.

Social learning is the most common way that people learn. When you observe your friends abusing drugs, you become more likely to try out drugs too. That’s because you have learned through observation that drugs achieved a positive result. You could also use drugs out of a need to be part of the group.

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Human beings have a strong need for social interaction. So, it becomes critical to consider the compelling social nature of many addictions. Most addictions need at least the cooperation of other people. And as the addiction progresses, the chances of a person interacting with healthy, non-using individuals become slimmer.

That’s because family and friends eventually disengage. At the same time, addiction takes up most of the addict’s time. In the end, the addict’s entire social circle is dominated by role models associated with the addiction.

How friends and family can contribute to drug addiction

Negative peer pressure

Negative peer pressure can be divided into two parts:

Direct negative often involves peers or friends directly asking you to try something, like abuse illegal drugs. It may be difficult to say no, especially if you are young and are concerned about how they’ll think of you. In some cases, they may hint that you’d be “uncool” if you didn’t take part or even provide reasoning that’s hard to argue against. The fear of losing friends or facing mockery can make you yield. Direct negative peer influence includes your friends or peers:

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Indirect negative is a subtle type of peer pressure and isn’t as apparent as direct negative. It happens when you try out drugs or alcohol just to fit in. Your friends don’t encourage you to participate in risky behaviors, but you feel pressure to do so to continue being part of that social group. Indirect negative peer pressure includes things like:

An NIH study assesses the group influences on an individual’s drinking and other drug use at clubs. A total of 368 social groups representing 986 people were anonymously surveyed. The study found that social groups had a definite impact on the individual outcome.

Group members seemed to know about other members’ drug use or drinking patterns, which were related to their drinking and other drug use. This suggests that normative patterns are established for the group, and social modeling happens within the group.

Signs your friends are making your drug use problem worse

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Positive peer pressure

Not all peer pressure is bad. Friends can influence you into making the right choices. Positive peer pressure is when friends bring a good change in your life – and this can be a useful tool in addiction treatment. In fact, many treatment facilities use this strategy to influence patients’ behavior. The same way a person in a drug-using circle uses drugs to fit in is the same way a person in a sober circle will want to stop using to fit in.

If you or someone close to you is struggling with substance abuse as a result of hanging out with wrong company, we can help. Contact us today to get started. 

The Social Model of Addiction Recovery:

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The social model of recovery from addiction has become one of the most prevalent forms of treatment used in a modern rehab center today. The social model focuses heavily on people helping people through their recovery and rehabilitation from some form of substance abuse. These social principles were rooted in the foundations of Alcoholic’s Anonymous (AA) and other social programs focused on curing alcoholism or drug abuse.  The social model to recovery is beneficial, because it can help build self-esteem, confidence and other key skills for a person trying to live a life of sobriety. People learn from others, so why should addiction treatment be any different?

 

Neuroscience has added a great depth of understanding about addiction and its effect on neuro pathways in the brain.

New health care technology has allowed us to examine the patterns in the brain in real-time. Neurochemistry has helped us examine principles related to various treatment techniques for substance abuse. These recent advancements have helped us understand the innate nature of addiction and its effects on the biology of the human brain. Science can now help us understand a complex combination of biological and psychosocial reinforcement mechanisms that all contribute to a substance abuse problem. With this depth of knowledge, we can find statistically effective techniques to treat addiction and other mental health issues.

Humans have evolved as a social creature. Starting at a very young age, we are inherently tied to our social atmosphere. Our social structure has an inherent system of rewards and punishments.  A complex substance abuse problem can rewire these reward signals in the brain, thus throwing our evolutionary instincts out of balance. The information we have gathered in the scientific and medical community compels us to dig deeper into the understanding of addiction treatment programs and their potential effectiveness.  

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Considering addiction from a biological and social perspective allows more flexibility and individuality in our treatment regimens.

When we look at the reward circuits in the brain, we are able to see rehab from beyond the medical model of “it is a disease” or the psychological model of “it is a bad habit”. Having our patients understand the biological causes of addiction can relieve a lot of guilt for the addict, while it also allows the patient to train their rational mind to think beyond their addiction. Performing this exercise in a social setting can help foster permanent behavioral modification that will make sobriety last a lifetime.

Using this mental technique in a social setting is a great tool for many recovering addicts. Having a support network of peers, coupled with trained professionals can help guide the treatment for alcoholism or drug abuse towards a successful goal of sobriety. Having a community based treatment program helps people view their progress as a lifelong learning process based on permanent changes in various aspects of life.

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Changing only the substance abuse is not enough to guarantee successful treatment that will last in the long term.

Drug and alcohol treatment programs that use a social model will teach the patient how to change their attitudes, beliefs, values, habits, routines and behaviors in conjunction with the principles of sober living. These skills are essential to provide confidence as the patient prepares to reintegrate into the outside world after their time at an inpatient rehab facility. A social model to recovery is best suited to prepare patients on what to expect once they begin to encounter the triggers and stresses of day to day life, without relying on drugs or alcohol to cope.

Long term success is greatly increased through spending time with other individuals who are also recovering. Since we are social animals, group therapy sessions are quite beneficial as they offer a therapeutic, homelike community setting as opposed to a cold, institutionalized hospital setting. Healing as a community helps us rewire our brains in a way that one on one treatment cannot quite accomplish on its own.

Cognitive behavioral therapy and relapse prevention are enhanced within a social model of recovery.

When a chemical dependency has shaped a portion of an addict’s life, it is important for them to seek ongoing outpatient treatment services. Regular attendance to group therapy sessions or meetings within a 12-step program are strongly encouraged. These sessions serve not only to hold the individual accountable for their recovery, but will also instill much needed confidence and self-esteem as they see others who can succeed. These social activities will help them grow into their newfound sobriety by reinforcing a drug-free lifestyle. Attending social gatherings with other addicts who are in recovery can enhance the patient’s ongoing efforts to maintain their recovery.

At More Than Rehab, we employ a combination of treatment tools that are integrated into your life as we focus on healing the whole person. We all help empower each other as you experience one of the greatest struggles in your life. As a community we stand stronger, together.

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