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Why is Addiction and Treatment Such a Complicated Issue?

Why is Addiction and Treatment Such a Complicated Issue?

Addiction and treatment are two complex issues that have been researched for decades. Researchers look for answers for how addiction starts, why it continues, and how to treat it, while people who struggle with addiction hope for answers that will support their recovery to bring hope for the future.


Unlike medical problems, addiction cannot be traced to one source like a virus or bacteria. The factors associated with addiction remain more complex. Understanding what makes addiction so complicated sheds light on the importance of getting high quality, professional treatment to overcome substance abuse problems. Scientists have begun to develop research into genetic factors. If parents or siblings struggle with addiction, there is a higher likelihood of addiction affecting you. Some people are also more susceptible to the effects of drugs based on genetic factors.

Gender and Ethnicity

Things that cannot be changed about yourself like gender and ethnicity may also predict why you struggle with addiction. Men may be more likely to have substance abuse problems than women. Caucasian and Hispanic individuals report higher levels of drinking and drug use than African Americans and Asians.


Most drugs of abuse seem to impact the same brain network, known as the limbic system. This is the brain circuit that controls your response to pleasurable events, including eating food or having sex. The limbic system is active when a person first tries drugs and tells the brain it feels awesome and to try it again. Over time, the same amount of drug may have a smaller impact on the limbic system which changes the structures to make it harder to feel pleasure in other areas of life.

Other Challenges

Addiction does not always occur in isolation. A high proportion of people experience co-occurring substance abuse and mental health problems. Psychological issues might include depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic attacks, post-traumatic stress disorder, or other mental health issues.

Early Childhood

Biology is not the only contributor to how addiction occurs. Growing up in a home where a caregiver struggled with addiction or trauma occurred makes it more likely you will have similar challenges. Child abuse, lack of family involvement, peer pressure, or falling into the ‘wrong crowd’ can also contribute to addiction.

The varied reasons addiction and recovery are complex are due to how much variation we all have as human beings. There is no way to put a square peg in a round hole and call it treatment, for example. Each person requires individualized counseling, support, and a network of peers who can help them navigate the right path forward.

Addiction recovery is as unique as the experience of addiction is for the individual. There is hope for healing in recovery if you take the first step to ask for help. We will tailor our programs and services to support your journey forward. Call us 24/7 at our toll-free number: 866-294-9401