Pressure and Expectation

Pressure and Expectation

Pressure and expectation are common themes in the world of substance abuse and addiction. Internal and external pressure is often present in the initial use of a drug, it is present during rehab and various treatments, and it is present throughout the recovery process. Expectation of what a drug will do, what rehab and treatment will be like, and what a recovery lifestyle will look like all affect the outcome of those decisions and experiences.

There are many different internal pressures and expectations that influence the way people behave that ultimately lead to the various experiences they have. For example, if a person has little understanding drug abuse what it can do to a person mentally and physically and turns to drug use to numb emotions or cope with life, he may end up developing an addiction. On the other hand, a person who is knowledgeable about the effects of drugs and how they can lead to addiction will likely stay away from substances of abuse and not end up struggling with addiction. Other people put pressure on themselves to be popular, to perform well in school or at work, and to accomplish hefty goals in an unrealistic amount of time. This unnecessary internal pressure often drives people to substance abuse in order to cope, which can eventually lead to addiction.

A person’s internal belief system and set of core values accounts for the majority of the decisions he makes and the experiences he has. If an individual’s internal belief system and set of core values go against drug abuse then he is unlikely to experience an addiction. On the other hand, an individual who does not share that same internal belief system and set of core values and has a careless attitude toward drugs may be more likely to experience addiction. When a person does not believe that substance abuse is a threat, he is more likely to experiment with drugs when external pressures present themselves.1

Pressure and Drug Use

External pressures that affect the choices people make and the experiences they have in the realm of drug addiction can include social interactions, economic stature, and environment. Social pressure can come in many different forms in today’s world. Most of the time when people think about peer pressure they think of kids at school trying to get their friends to do something bad when there are no teachers around. While that type of external pressure is still very relevant today, they are many more ways that people are experiencing external pressure to do drugs. Social media has become one of the most common ways of interacting with others and at the same time it has become another source of external pressure. Between friends, celebrities and other public figures there is a constant stream of real time updates showing other people having better lives with more fun. People follow celebrities and public figures that they can never live up to no matter how hard they try. That pressure can drive people to readily available forms of coping such as, drugs like hydrocodone and alcohol.

Peer pressure is present in the adult world as well at work or in social settings. Colleagues become a type of social circle and when they condone heavy alcohol use after work on a regular basis it can likely turn into alcoholism for some members of the group. Social circles outside of work can also be rampant with prescription drug abuse, marijuana abuse and alcoholism. Adults are not immune to peer pressure within their social circles and that pressure can just as likely lead a person into addiction as it could for adolescents. The social learning theory suggests that people tend to imitate the behavior that they witness in others when those individuals seem to be having rewarding or enjoyable experiences. For example if a person or group of friends goes out and gets drunk or does drugs and it seems as though they are having a harmless good time, other people may be drawn to that. Unfortunately, the long term negative aspects of substance abuse outweighs the seemingly enjoyable immediate outcomes.2

When people seek professional treatment for their struggle with addiction, their expectations of what treatment will do largely affects the outcome of their struggle. If addicts expect treatment to fail they will likely not even enter treatment or go through the treatment without ever trying to gain anything from it because they expect it to fail anyway. On the other hand, when individuals expect treatment to work for them, they are more likely to experience a successful outcome. The same can be said for life in recovery from addiction. If a recovering addict starts out the journey toward lifelong recovery expecting it to be successful, she is more likely to be successful.

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1 Cole, E., Galen, PhD, MPH, Holtgrave, R., David, PhD, Rios, M., Nilka, MT, MPH, “Internal and External Factors that Encourage or Discourage Health-Relevant Behaviors,”,, (Cited March 13, 2016).

2 DARA Thailand, “Peer Pressure and Substance Abuse,”,, (Cited March 13, 2016).