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Becoming Hooked

Someone is dependent (‘hooked’) on a drug when they cannot function normally without using the substance. For instance, when a person continues to use a drug despite the substance causing them problems. Ongoing use may result in tolerance to the substance and withdrawal symptoms experienced when the substance is reduced or stopped.

There are 2 parts to having a dependency:

Physical dependence

This is when:

  • Your body needs the drug
  • When your body doesn't get the drug, you get withdrawal symptoms like shaking, diarrhoea, headaches and feeling awful.
  • Your body becomes used to the drug so you need more of the drug to have the same effect.

Psychological dependence

This is when your mind takes over and you just feel that you need to have the drug in order to feel ok; if you don’t have it, you feel dissatisfied.

You need the drug because of how it makes you feel on the emotional side. We all have thoughts going on in our minds, sometimes those thoughts are saying harsh and difficult things about us. Drugs and alcohol can silence or soften our difficult thoughts, making it feel like we are free from them. However, when the effect of the drug is gone those thoughts come back with a vengeance, criticising us for taking the drugs in the first place! This makes it feel worse, and we can get into a spiral of needing more of the drug to take those thoughts away. Only counselling can really address those difficult thoughts in a real and long-term way. Drugs can’t. Psychological dependence is all about needing a substance to get us through. It’s one of the first things we think of when we feel down emotionally. No drug takes away a bad feeling for long! It always comes back! Counselling can help.

Are you hooked?

No matter what kind of drug a person is using, no one begins taking drugs thinking he or she will become dependent on it. The fact is, some people can try drugs and not become addicted. They can experiment with drugs and then stop, but many others cannot.

If you are hooked/dependent on drugs you might:

  • use drugs or alcohol as a way to forget problems, not just to get a high
  • keep secrets from family and friends
  • lose interest in activities that used to be important
  • have problems with schoolwork
  • hang out only with friends who use drugs/alcohol
  • spend a lot of time figuring out how to get drugs/alcohol
  • steal or sell things to be able to afford drugs/alcohol
  • fail at attempts to stop taking drugs/alcohol
  • get worried/ angry/ feel low
  • be moody
  • get the shakes/ feel sick when you don't take drugs/alcohol
  • you need more drugs/alcohol to get the same effect

Hurting someone else

It might be strange to think that by taking drugs you are hurting anyone else but you. But, if you become hooked then stealing, lying and losing friends are an all too familiar part of having a drug problem.

You can hurt other people just by buying drugs. The illegal drugs industry is a very dangerous one and people lose their lives being involved in supplying drugs. People wanting drugs also creates a need for people to work in the drug trafficking industry (where drugs are transported from abroad into Europe) which is a very dangerous industry. If people get caught doing this they will go to prison for a very long time and the danger involved means people die doing it.

Drug dealers (the people that sell drugs) can be very dangerous people and it is in their interest to get people dependent on drugs. Sometimes they might give away drugs for free, but nothing in life is free and you will always pay in the end! They might ask you to deliver drugs for them in return for free drugs. So what happens is you become dependent on the drug and at the same time, put your life in danger by delivering drugs – not very smart!