The Three C’s of How An Addiction Starts

 In Addiction

Ever wonder why addiction is so prevalent in our society? In 2017 the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) found that about 19.7 million American adults suffered from a substance use disorder. Out of that 19 million, about 74% struggled with an alcohol use disorder. Whether it is alcohol or other substances of abuse, it seems that patterns of addiction run rampant throughout our society, but how do these harmful patterns of behavior begin? 

The Three C’s of How Addiction Starts

In 2019, the Addiction Policy Forum released a video detailing the three C’s of addiction: Celebrate, Cope, Commiserate, that better help us to understand why these addictive patterns exist, and why they continue.


How many times do we associate a celebration with some form of substance use? At weddings we toast to the happy couple with champagne, to celebrate a big game we tailgate, at the end of a long week, we get together and socialize with drinks at happy hour. All of these celebrations have the central theme of alcohol. At a young age, seeing this modeled, we learn that alcohol is strongly related to a sense of celebration. This easily leaves the door open to learning that having a good time must include alcohol and/or other substances. 


Media often shows us that substance usage is a good way to cope. Whether media is attempting to reflect society as it is, and although they may not ultimately be to blame for the trend of relying on substances in order to cope, they certainly continue to perpetuate this message. 

Popular shows such as The Simpsons, Breaking Bad, or House glamorize substance and alcohol use to cope with difficult feelings.  In all three of these popular television shows, we see the characters use their choice of drug or alcohol to cope with the difficulties of life, teaching society that drug and/or alcohol use is an effective way to cope. 

Our society has been learning lessons like this since childhood with phrases such as “I had a hard day, I need a drink” or “I need to unwind with a cold one”. If healthier coping skills have not been established, it is easy to fall into the temptation of what has been normalized in culture through media and their environment.  


The last C stands for commiserating and this goes hand in hand with coping. We often use substances or alcohol as a setting where we can commiserate with one another in our interpersonal relationships. This can often be seen as commiserating about a failed relationship over drinks with a friend. Or wallowing in self-depreciation with friends while smoking a blunt. There are many forms in which this may appear, but at the end of the day commiserating over a substance or alcohol is a maladaptive behavior that can lead to addiction. 

Regardless of how your addiction may have come about, it is never too late to recognize these problematic patterns and seek help

At Launch Centers, we are dedicated to helping you pursue sobriety by not only correcting old behaviors but also creating new and healthy lifestyle changes. We believe in empowering our clients to move towards a life that is worth living and helping them discover how that looks for them along the way. If you are ready to take the first step towards recovery, please do not hesitate to reach out to us through our website to learn more about our services and how we are able to help you on your journey towards recovery.

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