Why Do Addicts Keep Using?

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When a person experiences addiction to drugs or alcohol, they may wonder why they find it so difficult to stop or why they inevitably go back to using even after a period of sobriety. If a person knows a loved one who struggles with addiction, they likely find it baffling, too. While it might seem like willpower or experiencing negative effects from addiction might be enough to get somewhat to seek treatment and stop consuming drugs or alcohol, it’s not that simple. Why do addicts keep using? We explore this to give a better understanding of some of the reasons and how to overcome them. 

Past Life Events 

A major contributor to a person developing a substance use disorder may involve having gone through a traumatic event in the past. Trauma can come from having endured events such as:

  • Physical or emotional abuse
  • Sexual assault or molestation
  • Childhood neglect or severe poverty
  • Victimization as part of a crime
  • Witnessing violence against others
  • Military service and wartime events
  • Natural disasters, such as hurricanes, floods, and fire
  • Death of a loved one
  • Long-term illness or hospitalization

A person who has never dealt with the impact of the trauma, which often results in developing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), sometimes ends up turning to drugs or alcohol in order to cope. What may feel like a temporary solution for things like feelings of depression or anxiety can quickly turn into a substance use disorder. Until the individual deals with their trauma through professional treatment, it may be the reason why addicts keep using

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Mental Illness

The answer to why do addicts keep using can often be found in the subject of mental illness. About half of all people who have a substance use disorder also have at least one diagnosable mental illness. These can include anxiety disorders, depression, PTSD, bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). When someone either is not aware of their mental illness or knows about it but does not seek help, they often use drugs or alcohol as a way to cope with it. Drinking and using may soothe symptoms and side effects of mental illness, but it’s a stop-gap approach. 

Seeking treatment for mental health concerns can help alleviate the conditions and teach the person how to manage their symptoms. Many addiction treatment programs also treat mental illness simultaneously, allowing a person to address both problems at the same time. As the mental illness is brought under control, the urge to use drugs or drink typically begins to dissipate. 

Unhealthy Coping Skills

Even if a person cannot point to a traumatic event or all-encompassing problem in their lives, they may have come to rely on getting high or drunk to deal with their day-to-day life. A person wondering why do addicts keep using may want to consider how they deal with things that crop up in their daily life. Problems like a bad day at work, an argument with a friend, a strain in a romantic relationship, or a financial difficulty happen to everyone. 

A person who has developed healthy coping skills will know how to address the problem. Tactics like talking a problem through and trouble-shooting where they can make positive changes help, as do simple acts of self-care like knowing when it’s time for meditation or a bubble bath. When a person doesn’t have healthy coping skills in place, they make such a habit of using drugs or alcohol that they become addicted. Professional treatment can help the person put effective coping skills into play, which helps remove the need for abusing substances. 

Changes in Brain Patterns After Addiction

The brain in a person who does not experience addiction to drugs or alcohol naturally produces dopamine, which causes feelings of happiness and elation. As a person becomes addicted, the substances they use begin to trigger their own similar feelings, which start to replace the brain’s natural ability to produce dopamine. Why addicts keep using often has to do with chasing the feeling they used to get naturally that can only be produced now through artificial means. 

Do Addicts Keep Using Forever?

A person in the grips of an addiction who does not seek treatment is unlikely to ever become sober. Sadly, many of these stories end up in a person overdosing, which can result in death. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that in 2019, over 70,000 drug overdose deaths happened in the U.S. Additionally, deaths from alcohol poisoning claim about 2,200 lives annually. The most effective way for a person to stop using and enter permanent recovery is by seeking professional treatment. Options like inpatient and outpatient addiction programs help a person understand why they came to rely on substances and get them on the road to recovery. 

Addicts Who Keep Using Can Get Addiction Treatment in Los Angeles

Why do addicts keep using is a question we can help you answer. Launch Centers in Los Angeles finds out what caused a person to develop an addiction and formulate a specialized plan to help them leave drugs and alcohol in the past. We also treat co-occurring mental illnesses with traditional therapeutic modalities and holistic therapy. We help people prepare for educational and career opportunities that become open to them as they enter recovery.

Contact Launch Centers today and let us show you how to become a former addict who no longer uses.

About Our Founder

Jose Hernandez, for over a decade, has been involved in alcohol and addiction recovery helping people succeed in overcoming substance abuse and regaining control of their lives. He has experience in all aspects of the recovery world, from facilitating entry into treatment as an intervention specialist to counseling and case management at rehabilitation facilities. Jose has worked one-on-one with individuals as a sober companion and with groups as a resident counselor at addiction treatment centers and is certified by the California Association of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors (CAADAC) to practice as a substance abuse counselor.

Through his professional experiences in crisis intervention, drug and alcohol detoxification, substance abuse counseling, and relapse prevention, Jose has developed a unique plan for case management that bridges the gap between a person’s painful past of substance abuse and a future of sobriety.

At Riviera Recovery, a sober living facility with multiple locations, clients continue their transition from the supportive environment of a treatment center to living well and happily in the “real” world. The program he designed at Riviera Recovery personalizes treatment plans that enable clients, including those with a single or dual-diagnosed mental health disorder, to embrace a satisfying life.

His greatest endeavor has been establishing LAUNCH, a Los Angeles-based life skills intensive outpatient program for young adults. LAUNCH works with recovering men and women to establish personal vocational and educational goals and develop the tools to successfully meet them. His mission is to ensure that no one stands alone in his or her recovery.

Meet Our Clinical Team

staff member drug alcohol treatment los angeles

Jess Beck, LCSW

Clinical Director

treatment team los angeles ca

Eric Chaghouri, MD


chloe kruskol los angeles rehab team

Chloe Kruskol, LCSW

Family Program Manager

Our Testimonials

Clients and Professionals Share Their Experience

  • HO

    Launch provided care on multiple levels. The highly skilled therapist coupled with the focus on purpose and long-term goals refocused my recovery from what previous treatment centers pushed onto me. I went from believing that I needed years of treatment to believing I needed years happiness and success. I began to focus on what I wanted to accomplish with my life. I came to realize all the things my addiction and mental illness had taken from me, and I used my future goals as a reason to never pick up again. Due to the passion that Launch instilled in me, I have pursued my future with excitement and dedication.

  • Nicole

    This place changed my life! I’ve had good laughs, good cries, shared a lot of heart to heart moments and grew a loving bond with everyone at Launch Centers. I will always be grateful!!! I really do miss it time to time. I highly recommend Launch Centers!

  • Joey

    The staff and clinicians are amazing and make you feel right at home from the second you walk in the door. I would absolutely recommend this place for a family member or close friend.

  • Ben

    This treatment facility has changed my life. I have always struggled with my mental health and this young adult program provided me with the necessary skills to launch to adulthood. I commend anyone who struggles with mental health or substance use (which was not me) to try this program out. It will change your life.

  • Conner

    Launch Centers Treatment was a major help to me. The therapists and staff genuinely cared about me and truly helped me to make a plan for my future. My personal therapists helped me to discover where some of my deeper issues came from. All of the staff worked tirelessly with me to talk through my issues, or just about life, and offered realistic solutions to my current problems and situation. All of the staff went above and beyond and advocated relentlessly for me. I am very grateful that I was able to have such a wonderful experience with Launch.

  • Adam

    In no uncertain terms Launch Centers changed my life. The staff at Launch are professional, knowledgable and relatable. They keep the format diverse and interesting which kept me engaged in the process. The greatest thing we can do in life is seek to improve ourselves. Launch gave me a skill set I consider to be invaluable in the journey of becoming the best version of myself. I would implore anybody considering Launch to step outside their comfort zone and go, you will not regret it.


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