Some people like to believe addiction is a choice. However, imagine something so powerful that it uses you. It’s like that for those of us who are susceptible to addiction. We voluntarily take our first drink or drug and then it takes over. We develop a psychological dependency – an emotional and mental process that goes hand-in-hand with addiction.
People with addiction lose control over their actions. They crave and seek out drugs, alcohol, or other substances no matter what the cost – even at the risk of damaging friendships, hurting family, or losing jobs.
The initial and early decisions to use substances are based in large part on a person’s free or conscious choice, often influenced by their culture and environment. Certain factors, such as a family history of addiction, trauma or inadequately treated mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety, may make some people more susceptible to substance use disorders than others. However, once the brain has been changed by addiction, that choice or willpower becomes impaired. Perhaps the most defining symptom of addiction is a loss of control over substance use.
Those who become addicted quickly lose the choice of whether to use or not. It’s not about will-power, strength, or morality. It is essential to recognize biological forces are at play in fundamentally perpetuating addiction. However, people with addiction can stop – it’s just significantly harder than for those who are not addicted.