Substance abuse often starts out as experimentation. Friends may suggest it be tried or they state that the substance has relieved their own discomfort and may help. Drugs are most often used to escape from mental or physical discomforts providing a short-term fix with long-term consequences. Take the drug away and the problem is still there, whether it be low self-esteem, anxiety, loneliness, or an unhappy family life. Prolonged exposure to drugs alters the brain in ways that result in powerful cravings and a compulsion to use. These brain changes make it extremely difficult to quit by sheer force of will. The longer drug abuse continues, the stronger the addiction becomes and the harder it is to treat.