What Makes Addiction So Difficult to Overcome?

why recovery is difficult

There’s no doubt that recovering from addiction is rarely easy. It’s also difficult to answer the question of why addiction is so hard to overcome. Addiction has many layers, and each addiction is as complex and unique as each person suffering.

To best guess why addiction is so difficult to beat, let’s take a look at how addiction begins.

Why does someone start abusing drugs or alcohol?

Dealing with negative feelings. No secret here: feelings like sadness, insecurity, anger, and loneliness are difficult to manage. Sometimes it can seem easier to numb them with an external substance than it is to confront them head-on and deal with the root issue.

When an addiction stems from trying to avoid emotions, it’s tough to overcome because, on some level, you know  you’ll have to deal with the emotions. 

Peer pressure. Teenagers aren’t the only ones susceptible to peer pressure. Everyone, regardless of their age, wants to feel like they fit in with others. Perhaps a colleague at your new job shows you how cocaine keeps him productive, or maybe you find you like how easy after-work drinks help you de-stress.

Receiving a questionable prescription. As the opioid crisis becomes more widespread in the United States and abroad, it’s becoming more common knowledge that doctors have a tendency to overprescribe drugs to their patients. The addictive effects of these drugs are often under-communicated. In 2017, 18 million people were estimated to be abusing prescription drugs.

When does substance abuse turn into addiction?

The difference between substance abuse and addiction comes down to the level of control the user has over their use. A substance abuser can stop anytime they want, whereas an addict has developed a dependence on drugs or alcohol. If addiction runs in someone’s family, they may be genetically predisposed to develop an addiction.

To put it simply, “addiction develops when the urge to take a substance hijacks parts of the brain that reward behavior and provides benefits for the body,” according to Medical News Today. The substance abuse rewires the brain to prioritize the feeling of the high over anything else, and an addiction is born.

This is what makes addiction so hard to overcome: the brain has changed in ways that can take effort and time to bring back to a healthy state.

Is it possible to overcome addiction?


It probably won’t be easy, but lifelong recovery from addiction is definitely possible with the right type of treatment and a strong commitment to getting sober.

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