Heather always feels awkward at parties. She’s quiet and shy. She never knows what to say and finds it hard to interact with people in these intimidating settings. To help her “loosen up,” she tries smoking pot before going to a party. Once there, she has a couple drinks, too. Before she knows it, there are pictures online of her doing some really embarrassing things. Did she make any new friends? No, but she sure was the life of the party!
Dave is easily intimidated by women. While his friends always seem to get a lot of dates, he finds it difficult to approach anyone while at a bar or club. To overcome this inhibition, he snorts cocaine before going out with his friends. Suddenly, he meets lots of women. In fact, he’s having sex with a different woman every weekend. Of course, the “relationships” never go anywhere. But at least he’s getting out there, right?
Different Drugs, Different Outcomes
Heather and Dave share a common story. Alcohol, pot, benzos, cocaine…they’re all frequently used in an attempt to “help” people overcome intimidating social situations. The substances decrease inhibitions, allowing you to do things you might not otherwise.
How? Well, each drug works and affects its users in slightly different ways. Let’s take a look at some commonly abused drugs and how they impact us:
- Benzodiazepines: These drugs boost the brain signalers and generates a sense of calm. The result is less anxiety, which “mellows” you and makes social situations less threatening.
- Marijuana: The active ingredient in marijuana, THC (delta-9-tertrahydrocannabinol), affects how the cells of the brain communicate. It slows things down, alters sensations, produces a feeling of euphoria and reduces inhibitions.
- Cocaine: This drug creates intense feelings of happiness and energy by increasing the naturally occurring “happy chemical” (dopamine) in the brain. Some party-goers rely on this to overcome initial discomfort in social situations.
- Alcohol: Of course there’s always plain old booze. Alcohol increases chemicals in the brain that slow things down. At the same time, it increases dopamine, creating a sense of pleasure. This calm, “happy” demeanor lowers inhibitions and sends otherwise shy people like Heather onto the table tops.
Not What You Bargained For
The rationale behind using drugs is that it “helps” you meet people and interact more. The problem, however, is that it’s a completely flawed rationale. When talking about drugs and forming relationships, the questions you need to ask yourself are:
- Are these interactions healthy?
- Do they lead to healthy relationships?
By the time you’re tipsy enough to engage, you’re no longer in a state to develop meaningful relationships. When you’re high, you’re not exactly in the condition to have deep conversations and get to know someone.
If you’re using substances to reach a social comfort level, you’re actually escaping people, not drawing near them. You’re trying to avoid the discomfort of relationships, not connect. Continued use leads to reliance, then addiction…and this cycle does not encourage intimacy. Quite the opposite. In the end, you end up close to absolutely no one.
Additional Reading: Drunk in the Moment – We Can’t Drink Reality Away
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