Why Can’t an Addict Just Figure It Out on Their Own?

Addict in a hoodie with no face

When speaking to families who are trying to help a loved one who is addicted to drugs and alcohol, one of the most common arguments is:

“They just need to figure it out on their own. We can’t make them do anything.”

Living a life of going from one high to the next isn’t living a life at all. It’s merely existing one moment to the next, trying to minimize pain and discomfort at any cost. Currently, there are more Americans struggling with a substance abuse disorder than ever before. With the number of people becoming addicted to drugs growing each year, one could look at the argument that an addict needs to just “figure it out for themselves” and realize that it’s completely illogical.

If addicts could just figure their issues out on their own, there wouldn’t be so many people who are currently addicted to drugs. If a drug user found themselves addicted to substances, they could recognize it and do whatever else they had to do to handle their problem on their own and then commence living a normal life. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Addicts don’t have the ability to handle their addictions by themselves. They can’t miraculously “get it together” and solve their issues because compulsive drug and alcohol use is so deep-rooted, that it takes professional help, time, effort, and perseverance to get sober.

At one point or another in a person’s life, drugs became the way they learned to solve life’s problems and difficulties. When things got too hard and they ran across things they had trouble confronting, they naturally gravitated towards drugs and alcohol as a way of coping with whatever was going on. They soon lost their abilities to constructively deal with their problems, leaning on substances to “cure” their pain, anxiety, depression, etc. A drug user winds up losing themselves along the dwindling spiral of addiction.

Depressed girl

It takes a lot of hard work to get clean. A person has to first learn how to confront the problems that drove them to drugs in the first place. Drug use is a symptom of the inability to face problems, pain, depression, anxiety, etc. The lack of being able to confront whatever was considered problematic, inevitably resulted in drug use. The drug use was found to be the easiest way to fix everything but wound up breaking the person in the end. It caused far more pain and destruction in the end and actually became worse than the original issues the drug user was faced with.

The reason addicts can’t figure things out by themselves is because intensive treatment is needed in order to help the addict to figure out how to confront the original problems they couldn’t face, gain life skills, and fix the physical burden drugs and alcohol have caused them. This is the most successful approach I’ve seen in handling addiction and it’s certainly something an addict just can’t do alone.


Jason Good

Jason has been working in the field of addiction and recovery for over 10 years. Having been an addict himself he brings real-word experience to the table when helping addicts and their families, while also offering a first-person perspective to the current drug crisis. Jason is passionate about educating the public about what’s currently going on in our society, and thankfully, offers practical solutions. Jason is also the co-host of The Addiction Podcast—Point of No Return. You can follow Jason on Google+, Twitter, or connect with him on LinkedIn.