While it’s well known that drug addiction and alcoholism are clinical, neurological diseases, in most cases these afflictions occurred because of choices that eventually got out of control and led to physical dependence and addiction. However, for some people, addiction wasn’t a choice at all. Some people are unwilling drug users, while others are actually forced into substance abuse and addiction. Understanding this phenomenon may help to prevent and treat it when it does occur.
One of the most common types of unwilling drug addiction is among the elderly. Because of various health concerns, many senior citizens are subjected to long periods of medication – including opiates like painkillers, and benzodiazepines for emotional disorders. With continued use elderly patients will become physically dependent on a drug even under the best managed care program, and many will eventually progress to outright addiction. Once addiction sets in, medical treatment is required in order to discontinue using the drugs.
When a person suffers a traumatic injury, they often must take pain medication for an extended period of time. And because addiction is a human disease that can affect anyone, with regular use the drugs will cause powerful addictions to form. In many cases the patient may even be aware that there is a physical dependence and addiction present, but the physical and emotional consequences of not taking the drugs are far more severe than continuing to take them.
Additionally, people who suffer traumatic injuries often have emotional problems as a result. This can include depression, anxiety, and PTSD or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. These issues are often treated with psychotropic medications that can be addicting, further complicating problems for someone suffering from a dependence on pain medication.
In some parts of the world, people are forced into the sex slavery industry, and in order to keep control over these sex workers their handlers will often force them to use drugs. Drugs like heroin, cocaine and ecstasy are used to keep forced sex workers in an incapacitated state where they are unable to run and unable to defend themselves. Addiction occurs rapidly in these cases. According to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center;
“Sex traffickers use a variety of methods to “condition” their victims including starvation, confinement, beatings, physical abuse . . . forced drug use and the threat of shaming their victims by revealing their activities to their family and their families’ friends. Victims face numerous health risks. Physical risks include drug and alcohol addiction; physical injuries…” (1)
However, the role of forced addiction and sex workers also works in reverse. This means that people who abuse or are addicted to drugs are much more likely to become infected with an STI or Sexually Transmitted Infection, become involved in a sexual assault, or become involved as a sex worker.
In Understanding Unwilling Drug Addiction Part 2, we’ll discuss other ways that people are forced into drug abuse and drug addiction, and how they are able to successfully recover. If you or someone you love is struggling with an addiction, this doesn’t have to go on for another day. Call the number at the top of your screen now for a free, confidential consultation with an expert drug addiction counselor. The cycle of addiction can end right now with a simple phone call.
(1) National Human Trafficking Resource Center Sex Trafficking Fact Sheet