Pleasure is a large part of our lives, and we as humans, spend an enormous amount of time aimed at chieving pleasure. There are some pleasures that are obviously good for us, and are essential to basic survival. Then there are other pleasures, which are not. Causing more than 600 deaths from overdoses per year in Australia, illegal drugs unfortunately, have a substantial impact on our society. Most of us probably wonder why, and more importantly, how?

Drugs are a pleasurable activity for those who partake. How people can find such activities enjoyable can be related to how some of us love food, or exercise, or sex!

Drug use dates back to the ancient Egyptians, who were known to have used opium for pain relief and as a sleeping draft for children. Since then, opium has been used as an ingredient in various drugs including the use of heroin, now considered one of the most dangerous drugs in our society.

All cultures through the ages and even today use drugs to manipulate their behaviour.

When a human uses a drug, links in the brain are made between a particular act and the pleasure that follows. Why do humans seek such pleasures, and why do some only find them in drugs?

“All creatures, from insects munching psychoactive plants to human children playing spinning games to get dizzy, have an inborn need for intoxication” (The Compass of pleasure, David Linden, 2011).

This ‘inborn need for intoxication’ involves curiosity, perhaps finding a mode of escape, to relax, seek simple pleasure, relieve pain and sadness, or induce creativity.

The drugs themselves react in the brain to alter behaviour. Each drug alters moods and cognition, perception and reactions, as the drugs activate certain parts of the brain.

As the addiction to the drug develops and tolerates, dependence and cravings arise, and the euphoria, which causes the initial burst of pleasure gradually drains away, so for some, all that is left is the addiction.

Originally posted on: 29 July 2012
Last updated on: 16 September 2023

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