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Why do some people struggle to overcome addiction?

Feb 23, 2023

Addiction is a complex issue to understand. Why do some people struggle with addiction while others don’t? Why do some recover quickly while others relapse time and time again? Whether they have dealt with addiction firsthand in their private lives or through their job, these readers discuss why certain people have a more challenging time beating addiction than others.
Amira Martin, LCSW-R

Amira Martin, LCSW-R

Founder of MA Therapy, LLC.

5 Reasons It’s Hard To Overcome Addiction

1. Chemical Changes in the Brain
One of the reasons why people find it challenging to overcome their addiction is that [it] causes chemical changes in the brain. Drugs and alcohol alter the brain’s reward system, making it difficult for individuals to feel pleasure without the substance they are addicted to. The brain becomes dependent, and withdrawal symptoms can be severe, making it difficult to quit.

2. Underlying Mental Health Issues
People struggling with addiction [can] have underlying mental health issues, such as anxiety or depression, that make it hard to quit. Substance use can be a way to self-medicate and cope with the symptoms of mental health conditions. When individuals try to quit, their underlying mental health issues can resurface, making it harder to stay sober.

3. Social and Environmental Factors
Addiction can also be influenced by social and environmental factors. Individuals who have a history of trauma, live in environments where drug or alcohol use is prevalent, or have friends who use drugs or alcohol may find it harder to overcome their addiction. These factors can create triggers and make it harder to stay sober.

4. Lack of Support
Quitting addiction can be a challenging journey, and having a strong support system is crucial. People who lack support from family, friends, or community resources may find it harder to overcome their addiction. Without support, individuals may feel alone and isolated, making it easier to relapse.

5. Stigma and Shame
Addiction carries a significant social stigma, and people struggling with addiction may feel ashamed and stigmatized. This can make it harder for individuals to seek help and support and can lead to feelings of hopelessness and despair.

Overcoming addiction can be a challenging journey, and there are many reasons why some people find it harder than others. It is crucial to seek professional help, create a strong support system, and address underlying mental health issues to increase the likelihood of success. With the right support and resources, it is possible to overcome addiction and live a fulfilling life in recovery.

The Substance Use Can Become Part Of A Person’s Identity

One of the biggest reasons some people find it so hard to overcome addiction is because of identity. For many people who use drugs, there is a certain “street” lifestyle that goes along with it. This lifestyle comes with its own set of rules and beliefs, which become part of a person’s identity.

When it comes to overcoming addiction, the person is forced to not only give up the substance that has helped them cope with life’s troubles, but they are forced to question their whole identity and perspective about life. This can be intimidating and scary for someone who has spent a great deal of their life holding on to certain “street” values and beliefs.

Not only do they have to question who they are, but they are afraid of being judged by others for giving up these beliefs. Thinking about friends and sometimes family who played a big influence in their lives who are still living in addiction or who still hold onto that mindset can make overcoming addiction difficult. Ultimately, it can end up being a great time of discovery in which the person connects and realizes their true self, but taking those first steps is crucial.

Elijah Maidez

Elijah Maidez

From Streetsober.
Miriah Macias

Miriah Macias

Freelance writer for Addiction Treatment Magazine.

Afraid To Lose Their Safety Blanket

Addiction is a disease that impacts so many and has a ripple effect of repercussions. It’s hard for people to overcome addiction because drugs and alcohol become their security blanket. I mean that when life gets tough, they chase this high, and all is well again in their world. It’s an escape from reality until they find themselves knee-deep, constantly chasing what makes them feel good or not feel at all. The thought of losing that can be daunting and scary. Perhaps it’s easier and, in some cases, cheaper to find the drugs than to seek professional help making it hard to overcome addiction.

A Complex Combination of Factors

Addiction is a complex and challenging condition that can have devastating effects on a person’s life. While many people can successfully overcome addiction with the right support and resources, others struggle to break free from its grasp. So why do some people find it so hard to overcome addiction? Let’s explore some of the reasons.

    ● Genetics
    Addiction can have a genetic component, meaning that certain people may be predisposed to addictive behaviors. Research has shown that genetics can account for up to 60% of a person’s vulnerability to addiction. This genetic predisposition can make it harder for some individuals to quit using drugs or alcohol, even if they have the desire to do so.

    ● Co-occurring mental health disorders
    Addiction often co-occurs with other mental health disorders, such as depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder. These conditions can make it harder for individuals to quit using drugs or alcohol because they use these substances to self-medicate or cope with their symptoms. It is essential to address these underlying mental health conditions to achieve a successful recovery from addiction.

    ● Trauma
    Many people who struggle with addiction have experienced trauma in their lives, such as physical or emotional abuse, neglect, or other traumatic events. Trauma can trigger the development of addiction and make it harder for individuals to overcome it. Treating trauma alongside addiction is critical to achieving long-term recovery.

    ● Social environment
    The social environment in which a person lives can also impact their ability to overcome addiction. If an individual is surrounded by others who use drugs or alcohol or are not supportive of their recovery, it can make it harder for them to stay sober. It is essential to have a supportive social network and avoid triggers that can lead to relapse.

    ● Lack of resources
    Finally, many people who struggle with addiction do not have access to the resources they need to overcome it. Addiction treatment can be expensive and may not be covered by insurance. Individuals who lack financial resources may not have access to quality treatment programs, support groups, or therapy. A lack of resources can make it much harder for individuals to overcome addiction.

In conclusion, addiction is a complex and challenging condition that can be difficult to overcome. Genetics, co-occurring mental health disorders, trauma, social environment, and lack of resources can all impact a person’s ability to achieve successful recovery. It is essential to address these persons with the assistance and resources they need to overcome addiction by addressing fundamental causes and leading fulfilling lives in recovery.

Jon Morgan

Jon Morgan

CEO and Editor-in-Chief of Venture Smarter.
Nicci Kadilak

Nicci Kadilak

Wrong Environment

Addiction is a mental illness, but it is also an illness of the environment. It feels great to be sober, and it can seem easy when you’re in a controlled environment. But the wrong environment makes sobriety difficult. The places you spend time, and the people you spend time with, make a huge difference in how much effort it takes to stay clean.

Going back to old patterns is a lot easier when you’re around old influences, and the easier it is to get your drug of choice, the harder it is to say no and stay true to your commitment to sobriety. That doesn’t mean you’re weak; it means you’re not set up for success. Set yourself up for success by having contingency plans and a support network that can help you stick with your commitment even when you feel like backsliding.

Addiction’s Nature, Social Factors, and Stigma

One of the primary reasons why people find it hard to overcome their addiction is the nature of addiction itself. Addiction is a chronic disease that affects the reward system of the brain, causing a person to crave drugs or alcohol despite being aware of their harmful effects. The brain rewires itself over time to become physically and psychologically dependent on a substance, making it difficult to quit without professional assistance.

Social and environmental factors also contribute to the difficulty of overcoming addiction. Numerous individuals utilize addiction to manage stress, trauma, and other difficulties. Without support and resources to address these issues, it can be difficult to overcome addiction. Peer pressure and social isolation can also impede recovery from addiction.

Additionally, stigma can make it more difficult for addicts to receive treatment. Rather than a medical condition, addiction is frequently perceived as a moral defect or lack of willpower. This can result in shame and embarrassment, making it more difficult for addicts to seek assistance.

Lastly, because addiction is a chronic disease, relapse after treatment is possible. Relapse can discourage and frustrate recovering addicts who have worked diligently on their recovery. People can conquer addiction and live a healthy, fulfilling life with ongoing support and treatment.

David Reid

David Reid

Sales Director at VEM.

This is a crowdsourced article. Contributors' statements do not necessarily reflect the opinion of this website, other people, businesses, or other contributors.