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Drugs & Health Blog

Real Life: The Choices We Make

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Image Courtesy of Garland Cannon

Sara Bellum

A lot of celebrities are making headlines lately for all the wrong reasons. First we hear about tennis star Andre Agassi admitting to meth (a toxic stimulant drug) use when he was on the tennis circuit (what was he thinking?) and now Tiger Woods, with everyone speculating about his personal problems.

All of this news has made SBB think a lot about how we make choices in our lives. Why do intelligent, successful people make bad choices when they have so much to lose—even (and maybe especially) superstars?

Taking a Risk

We look at this question of personal choices and self control a lot at NIDA while we study drug abuse. Initially, taking drugs is a choice. Over time, drug abuse can become a disease we call addiction. But what makes us risk the consequences of making the choice to try drugs? Not everyone becomes addicted to them, but many do. So why do people risk it?

To find answers, scientists are studying the brain chemical called dopamine. Dopamine gives us a feeling of euphoria, a physical surge of pleasure in response to things we enjoy, which are different for different people. From healthy pleasures, like eating a good meal or scoring a goal, to unhealthy ones, like doing drugs or stealing from stores.

Once you become addicted to that rush of dopamine, it's hard to stop the behavior. And, once you become addicted, it's hard to feel pleasure from the simple things in life—like a great piece of music, holding hands with someone you really like, spending a fun day with the family, or having a laugh with friends.

Making a Different Choice

So how do we avoid making bad choices in the first place?

SBB suggests focusing on the genuine pleasures in your life. Fill your day with them. Go shopping with a friend, watch a game with friends, join a club at school, watch a movie, read a great book…Protect the simple pleasures in your life—and when it comes to drugs, maybe think about what you might lose.

Comments posted to the Drugs & Health Blog are from the general public and may contain inaccurate information. They do not represent the views of NIDA or any other federal government entity.


People, young people in particular should not always use celebrities as role models. Listen to your parents.

ordinary people make mistakes how much more celebrities. it's a matter of making a good decision and having the right perspective.

I wish there was a way to keep young people from idolizing celebrities and sports figures so much. There are so many everyday people out there that are immeasurabley better role models than somebody who is famous just because they have talent at throwing, catching or hitting a ball.

@Anthony Masiello-- what is wrong with haveing a celebritie as a role modle? i mean what if a kids dreme is to become a rapper and then people tell him that rapping is all bad because some of it has drugs and profound things?

It is a shame that people so easily choose pleasures over integrity. It makes me think of a quote that says: "Wisdom considers not only the cost of a choice, but also its value." Wes Fessler

Not all celebrities are role model but there is quiet a number of celebrity role model out there like Oprah,Obama and many moer others.
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Hi this is amazing site! really perfect and it will be a new inspirations for me

As we made choices in our lives, we should not be influence by some big celebrities.

this website is OK but it never give good info

this site is cool but the info is kinda biased

It's sad to see so many celebrities go to waste. My little sister used to look up to Lindsay Loham when she was little but now she's ashamed when she sees anything about her.