Why do People do Drugs?

For people who have never used drugs, it can be a little hard to understand why people take drugs and allow themselves to develop abusive relationships with various substances. When used in a dangerous fashion, they can bring severe problems.

This simple guide will help answer the question “why do people do drugs?” while additionally enabling you to empathize with addicts and get help for loved ones who have shown signs of addiction.

How bad is America’s relationship with drugs?

Before asking why people do drugs, it’s important to gain a clear understanding of the nation’s relationship with illegal and harmful substances. Drugs have been used around the world for many centuries, not least in pre-20th century medical care. Meanwhile, the New York State Inebriate Asylum was founded in 1864 to treat alcoholism solely as a mental health issue. 

In short, drug addiction is a problem that has existed for as long as drugs have been used. The stats regarding current drug usage in America are eye-opening too. Some key findings include;

  • 31.9 million Americans over the age of 12 use drugs at least once per month. The figure grows to 165 million when including alcohol and tobacco.
  • Over 10 million Americans will misuse opioids at least once per year while 1.6 million of those people are considered to have an opioid use disorder.
  • Drug-related overdose deaths surpassed 70,000 in 2019, up from around 38,000 in 2010 and under 20,000 in 1999.
  • Around 68% of overdose deaths in 2019 were male, which still means thousands of women died due to their drug usage.
  • Drug abuse costs the U.S. economy over $740 billion per year due to lost workdays, criminal activities, and healthcare impacts.

Figures surrounding drug use and abuse make for bleak reading. Worse still, it is a trend that covers all drug types – ​​Stimulants, Inhalants, Cannabinoids, Depressants, Opioids, Steroids, Hallucinogens, and Prescription drugs.

So, why do people do drugs?

The negative impacts of misusing drugs are clear. Aside from the risk of death or injury, drugs can have many side effects on physical and mental wellness while simultaneously damaging relationships and causing financial problems. To an outsider, then, the appeal of drugs can be very hard to see.

In reality, there are many reasons why people do drugs. No two people are the same, which is why the root cause can range from personality traits and financial backgrounds to age and gender. Some of the most common examples of why people turn to drugs are detailed below.


While the potential downsides of drugs are well documented, the short-term feelings of enjoyment are very attractive to millions of users. Youngsters often experiment with drugs to experience a temporary high. It can provide confidence and remove inhibitions. Sadly, there is a fine line between enjoyment and disaster.

Peer pressure

Many drug users, particularly first-time users, do it to look cool or impress friends. Teenagers and young adults are particularly vulnerable to this problem as research shows that they are more influenced by peers than their parents. Whether it’s positive or negative peer pressure, the results are often the same – drug-taking even when they don’t really want to.


Drugs aren’t inherently destructive (problems are caused by misuse) and can be used for positive purposes, such as medication. Unfortunately, many people self-medicate with an array of drugs to control pain symptoms without consulting a doctor. It can pose immediate risks due to overdose, as well as long-term addiction or drug use disorders.


People have taken drugs to escape reality for centuries. However, it has become an increasingly common problem in recent times, as evidenced by alcoholism during quarantine. Many people who use drugs to escape their daily lives feel depressed, which is why the links between addiction and mental health problems.


In addition to temporary escapism, some people turn to drugs in a conscious effort to end it all. Alternatively, they may take drugs as a cry for help from loved ones or to punish themselves or others. This could come after a single event or after a difficult childhood or time in their lives. People in this category are at a high risk of overdose.


Modern life is stressful, and not only due to the pandemic. Millions of people drink, vape or smoke cigarettes to relieve stress. Studies show that 1 in 5 people with anxiety uses drugs to relax. In some cases, it can be medically prescribed. However, thousands of people misuse drugs or take illegal drugs to take the edge off of life far too frequently.

Most abusers don’t plan to become addicted

There are many reasons why people do drugs. Most can be categorized as recreational or medicinal (even if self-medicated), which means people intend to use them in very specific situations. For example, they may set out to take drugs exclusively at parties or when their symptoms become worse. 

Sadly, it is very easy for infrequent usage to turn into dependence. It can lead to;

  • Increased frequency of drug use,
  • Increased drug taking per session due to tolerance levels,
  • Withdrawing from other activities and responsibilities.

All of these issues can increase the threat of the health impacts mentioned above. Worse still, many people who develop a substance use disorder do not notice their decline until they are addicted. Once the cycle starts, it can be very hard for a drug-dependent individual to stop the situation – at least not without help.

Seeking treatment with Peaks Recovery Centers

The fact is that millions of people will use drugs at least once in their life. Thankfully, many will not face any serious repercussions outside of the post-high comedown. However, when your loved one shows signs of addiction, it is important to take action ASAP.

Drug rehabilitation has a far higher success rate when it begins early into the addiction. Peaks Recovery Centers can provide an array of personalized treatments to help your loved one finally break free. Contact us to find out more today.