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Drug use factors

Female sniffing cocaineWhy people take drugs

There are many reasons why people take drugs. Here are some of the factors which can influence them:

Risk taking

Some people are more drawn to risk taking than others. They may use drugs to fit in with their social group or to help them cope, for a sense of release or individual transformation, or for the thrill.

Predisposition

It may be that your genetic or psychological characteristics mean you are more likely to take drugs.

Experimentation

Some people try drugs for the first time as an experiment, because they are curious or because friends are doing it. They want to try it to see how it affects them and talk about their experiences with their friends afterwards.

Gender and age

The age you are when you first try drugs can influence how you will go on to use them. For example, the younger you are when you start drinking alcohol, the more likely you are to try hard drugs later on.

Young men are more likely to experiment with drugs than women. However, heavy drug use can cause more damage to young women.

Hedonism (the ‘buzz’)

This is a major factor, as many people take recreational drugs for the ‘buzz’ or ‘thrill’. They make a deliberate choice to pursue this ‘high’.

Peer group

There are two schools of thought on the influence of your friends on your drug use. One is that the group can pressure you into taking drugs. Another is that people may choose to hang out with people who are into the same things as they are.

Availability

The easier it is to get drugs, the more likely you are to use them. This will also influence the type of drugs you use.

Family, social and environmental factors

People who live in a ‘deprived’ state, where the risk factors are high and the protective factors low, have a higher risk of using drugs. In terms of family, the important factor is how happy and stable your family life is, rather than whether you have two parents or not.

For a purpose

Some people use drugs to lose weight or to help them concentrate. Others may self-diagnose problems and use drugs to self-medicate.

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