If someone is passing out cocaine at a party, or you’ve heard self-medicating with Xanax might help reduce your constant feelings of anxiety, you might be wondering. Can you ever take hard drugs in moderation and still be safe?
The answer may seem complicated. You might have read a story online about someone who claims to cocaine ‘occasionally’ and still live an otherwise healthy lifestyle. The reality is that these substances can affect everyone differently. And the severe consequences of misuse are no small price to pay to experiment with drugs you’re unsure about.
If you’ve ever thought about recreational drug use or your own ability to self-moderate, read on as we explore what even small doses of opioids, prescription drugs and other powerful stimulants do to the body, and how they can put you at risk for drug addiction.
Why It’s Not Possible to Self-Regulate Drug Use
The most glaring problem with the idea that you can completely control the extent of your drug use is that drug addiction is not a lack of willpower or self-control. Addiction works by affecting your brain’s reward center. Each time you use a drug that produces feelings of euphoria, your brain is flooded with the pleasure chemical dopamine. Over time, your body becomes accustomed to this increased level of dopamine, and intense cravings occur when it doesn’t happen. This is all wired into your biological survival mechanism (that is, your body literally believes it will die if it doesn’t get more of the substance), which is why addiction overrides your normal reasoning and logic. That’s why people who struggle with addiction continue to engage in their addictive substance use or behaviors despite their desire to quit. Or its negative impacts on their life.
Typically, addiction begins with experimentation. Testing limits and pushing boundaries is normal behavior, especially in earlier stages of life. But what most people don’t know is how quickly this can spiral out of control when it comes to substance abuse. As drug use continues, users’ tolerance increases, causing them to use more of the drug to achieve the same effect. This paves the way for physical dependence and addiction. Even over just a short period of time, drug use rewires the parts of the brain responsible for impulse control. Making it all the more difficult to discontinue use and overcome the powers of addiction.
The Dangers of Opioid Addiction
Whether you’ve been prescribed opioids by a medical professional or take them under illicit circumstances, the effects can be the same. Opioids are among the most highly addictive drugs available anywhere in the world, as they directly impact the way the brain perceives pleasure. Ingesting in small or moderate dosages can create feelings of relaxation and euphoria that keep users coming back from more… and more, and more.
Unfortunately, opioids also quickly create a tolerance that makes small and moderate dosages insufficient to sustain the same effects over time. The need for more of these drugs in shorter periods of time to recreate the same ‘high’. This makes opioids a highly addictive, and deadly, class of drugs.
What Happens When You Use Ice (Meth)
While most ice use begins socially – you’re out with your friends, someone offers a line, and you figure, “Why not?” – there’s a mountain of evidence to show why this is one drug you don’t want to come anywhere near. Ice is so addictive because it’s tremendously powerful and fast-acting, creating intense feelings of pleasure, energy and clarity. But that intense high is followed by an equally intense low.
Says Dr Nicole Lee, Adjunct Associate Professor at Curtin University’s National Drug Research Institute in Australia. “The ‘come down’ period is like a hangover, a recovery period after which people may move into withdrawal if they are dependent”. The uncomfortable feelings associated with that comedown cause many users to reach for more. This lead far too many people down a dangerous road to addiction.
Why You Can’t Just Use Cocaine ‘Occasionally’
Like opiates, cocaine creates dramatic surges of dopamine in the brain. A central nervous stimulant, cocaine increases the amount of energy users feel. Keeping them highly stimulated and creating short-lived, dangerously addictive rushes of euphoria.
Because of the powerful short-term effects of cocaine use. It can be a highly addictive drug that completely alters the chemical makeup of the brain. People experimenting with cocaine often struggle to maintain occasional or moderate use because of the intense highs and lows experienced after each use. Cocaine leaves the body almost as quickly as it enters the bloodstream after being ingested. This makes it all the more likely that even occasional use will result in a very dangerous form of addiction.
The Bottom Line: All Drug Use Can Lead to Addiction
Experimenting with prescription opioids like Xanax or Valium or stimulants like cocaine and ice can be tempting. From their potential as self-medicating substances, to the peer pressure of recreational use. The allure of ‘occasional’ or ‘moderate’ use can be tempting.
But no matter how strong you are, the power of addiction can quickly turn what started as experimental drug use into a dangerous and deadly habit. Predisposition to addiction can be a hereditary condition. Drug use restructures the chemicals of the brain, making moderating your use or quitting completely an extremely difficult task. An almost impossible task for anyone to accomplish on your own.
Can’t Quit? Get Expert Help for Addiction at DARA.
If you’re struggling to stop your drug use, our team of compassionate addiction experts can help. Here at DARA, our goal is to help you find your true self again with our all-inclusive treatment programs set in the serene scenery of Thailand. As the most experienced drug and alcohol rehab centre in Thailand, we truly believe in every client’s ability to recover. And we provide individualised support along every step of the way.
If you or someone you love is addicted to drugs, alcohol or toxic behaviours, help is right here for you. Recover in paradise with the addiction experts at DARA: contact us to learn more about the variety of recovery options we have on offer to help you start living your best life.