Is Willpower Enough to Beat Addiction?


One of the most dangerous ideas surrounding mental health disorders, addiction, and recovery is that we should be strong enough to conquer our problems on our own. This idea stems from the harmful ideas culture has around success, productivity and independence, as we have turned away from the communal mindset and more towards a hyper-independent one. Human beings are biologically built for connection. To be hyper-independent is a trauma response on its own. 

Why Isn’t It Simply a Matter of Willpower?

Addiction and disordered behavior patterns are not only learned behaviors that we have to unlearn using therapy and various practices. They are part of our physical make up, building neurological pathways that create grooves into the brain about how to function in our lives. The reason addiction is often called a disease is because when we become dependent on a substance, action, behavior or pattern, our brains become dependent on them too, which physically changes the way we function and experience the world. 

Addiction is Not a Choice

Though this misconception is often used against people in recovery or active addiction, the reality is: addiction is not a choice. The science behind genetics and addiction make it evident that there is a link between DNA and our behavioral patterns. In addition, many mental health and addiction disorders stem from trauma, creating a snowball effect of needing to feel safe and finding refuge in the unhealthy behavior pattern.

Taking Ownership is Key

Understanding the genetic basis of our condition does not absolve us from taking responsibility for our actions. In fact, most recovery programs are built on the idea that we are responsible for our actions, and finding humility and radical honesty with ourselves is the key to sobriety and a healthy, happy life. The reality we are faced with when we come into recovery is often an uncomfortable one, and taking ownership can be hard. Having support, guidance, and a general feeling of safety and security throughout our process is undeniably important. It is not a matter of willpower, but a matter of livelihood. 


Getting sober and leading a healthy, happy life does not come down to a matter of willpower. It often depends upon realizing that we need help and that we deserve to receive it. At Avalon, we understand how difficult it may be to reach out for help, or admit the need for it. You are not alone. Getting help for mental health disorders or addiction is one of the most courageous and powerful things you can do for yourself and your loved ones. If you or someone you love is struggling to get or remain sober, please call us today at (844) 857-5992.

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