Marijuana is considered the least dangerous illicit drug in the United States. In 1969, a survey concluded that only ten percent of Americans had experience with the drug. Presently, approximately 44 percent of the populace has an experience with Marijuana. A person with constant exposure to water has a high risk of getting soaked. The same concept applies to individuals growing up or residing around illicit drugs. It is not rare to see a helpless drug addict arising from a family line of heavy drug use and alcohol abuse.
Defining Environment Regarding Drug Addiction
These are the circumstances surrounding a person’s living condition. This blanket term encompasses the various contributing factors that make up the environment such as the people, feelings and the physical space. This rising number is attributed to some environmental influences such as peer pressure, the community, the school environment and family dynamics.
Environmental Risk Factors for Addiction
• The family set up- Family refers to the closest people with whom we share societal and genetic bonds. These people have a lasting impact on how we develop the lenses through which we view the world. Children and teen are especially impressionable characters who will mimic the adults’ behaviors. Alternatively, a drug-addicted family may cause one with a strong persona to divert to drugs as the only known coping mechanism. Children who experience abuse are more likely to indulge in drug use than their counterparts.
• Peer pressure- Peers have often been observed to become one’s stand-in family for teens and adults who lack a strong familial structure. Exposure to drug-addicted friends will incline one to try drug use and potentially risk the development of addiction. This concept is explained as euphoria that tempts one to seek the experienced pleasure in taste, smell and the feeling induced by the drug. Peers who support an addict’s recovery are equally powerful in supporting a recovering a drug addict in their circle.
• School environment- Educational institutions have high demographics. Early schooling facilities especially pose a danger to vulnerable kids who are desperate to escape the turmoil in their living conditions. Others who are simply experimenting may develop an addiction later in life because of euphoria. The school environment is almost as powerful as peer pressure since most people develop binding and deep friendships at a young age. According to the NCBI, schools are also a great recovery space where kids can receive educational materials detailing the devastation that follows drug abuse and possibly shift their focus towards nurturing a positive mindset.
• The community- This factor forms the least influential aspect of drug addiction influences. Children growing up in areas with rampant drug use have to develop a really strong mental and emotional realm to resist attempts of drug use. Drug abuse is not absent in suburban estates, where kids may begin experimenting with various influencers upon exposure from the media or a neighbor they deem as cool. The unfortunate reality is that all communities have a degree of substance abuse that may not always be apparent to the naked eye.
Changing the Environment to Conquer Addiction
Most people like to believe that stopping addiction is a simple case of altering one’s attitude towards the stimulant. However, studies indicate that the environment plays a key role in influencing our daily activities. A study in the ’70s on Vietnam soldiers highlighted the environment as a risk factor for overcoming addiction. Upon returning to the United States, 20 percent of the soldiers underwent rehabilitation following President Richard Nixon’s commands. Only five percent relapsed post-treatment. Many studies conducted since the ’70s points to the change in environment as the enabling factor that facilitated the healing.
Today, psychologists use the Vietnam case study to compare the recovery process with that of a typical drug user. The soldiers found it easy to quit heroin use when they changed their environment due to the absence of the original stimuli. These stimuli included stress, peer pressure and community risk factors. The same concept is evident in relapsing drug users who are continually in and out of rehab centers. The good news is that one has maximum control of their environmental architecture.
Steps to Changing the Environment
• Identify your trigger factors- Take time to identify which conditions trigger a change in mood and temperament. One living in a chaotic family environment will often have an urge to spend time outside the home and could be hibernating on friends’ couches. Peer induced addictions may have one eager to reunite with friends for the sole purpose of using illicit drugs.
• Find a means to stop the stimuli from the environment- A drug addict has a high chance of recovering when they book into a rehab center. The alienation nurtures a different mindset since it does not have to react to the regular stimuli. It might be necessary to change towns or cities to check in to a competent rehab center.
• Develop a consistent behavior that prevents one from relapsing to the original environment- These could be starting out new habits outside the regular environment. If one tends to indulge in drug use while attending nightclubs, they have a great chance at slowing down drug use by finding other nightly activities that do not condone drug use and are far removed from the partying scenario. An expansive environment that triggers the thought process will stir up the creative juices and consume one with healthy endeavors.
The truth about the influence of the environment on addictions is that it is only one facet of an array of contributing factors. While environment alone will not be the main cause one becomes an addict, it defines the options available for how one responds to the urge of indulgence. The educated myth psychologists seek to dispel is that changing the environment is especially helpful to addicts who have already identified the risk factors surrounding their everyday life. Changing the geographical location even on a temporary basis will have a profound effect on the patient’s mentality.