Why Breaking Addiction Takes More than Willpower

Why Breaking Addiction Takes More than Willpower

It takes proper treatment, rather than just pure willpower, to end the cycle of addiction

Because the body and the mind become dependent on the feelings that drugs and alcohol produce, drug abuse is much more than just a bad habit; rather, it is a disease. Addiction is a chronic disorder characterized by compulsive drug use. Addicts can be genetically predisposed to the disorder, as those with a family history of drug abuse are more likely to develop addictions than those people without such a history. Repeated substance abuse can significantly alter the way a person’s brain looks and functions, so it is vital to understand that addiction is a disease that requires treatment. In other words, addiction needs more than willpower to die.

Symptoms of Drug Abuse

Like other diseases, the symptoms of drug abuse come on gradually and get worse over time. Without proper treatment, addiction can change a person’s entire life and eventually lead to an untimely death. Many people begin abusing drug to experiment, or they become addicts as the result of using too much prescribed painkillers after surgery, injury or to control chronic conditions that cause pain. Some of the symptoms of drug addiction include the following problems:

  • Needing more of the drug of choice to get the same level of pain relief
  • Wanting a supply of the drug on hand at all times
  • Becoming preoccupied with getting and using the drug
  • Engaging in illegal behaviors, like stealing, to get and use the drug
  • Participating in dangerous behaviors, like driving, while under the influence of the drug
  • Becoming more involved in the drug culture
  • Changes in physical appearance, especially in personal hygiene
  • Changes in relationships and losing interest in things that used to make you or a loved one happy

If one or more of these symptoms are present and you or a loved one use drugs or alcohol, then it is time to get help.

Treatment and Willpower in Addiction Recovery

Addiction recovery does involve willpower, but willpower alone will not free people from the grip of drug abuse. During treatment, addicts learn various coping strategies to help them deal with cravings. These coping strategies change the behavior patterns that caused the addiction. Because the body and brain are dependent upon the feelings the drug produces, it takes time to retrain the brain to feel normal without drugs. Lastly, a combination of medically supervised detox, psychotherapy, group and family counseling and aftercare is the best way to recover from addiction. The need for treatment means that willpower is important, but learning to make better choices through rehab is the real answer to long-term sobriety.

Find Help for Addiction

If you or a loved one struggles with addiction, we can help. Call our toll-free, 24 hour helpline to speak with our admissions coordinators about treatment.