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.
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.