What is willpower? Also sometimes referred to as self-control, willpower is a skill that can be developed. It is the ability to put off gratification and not give in to temptations. It also means ignoring impulses, overriding negative thoughts and emotions, and the ability to think and act in a conscious way rather than with emotions.

Individuals in recovery understand that addiction is more complicated than a mere failure of willpower. It is a fact that addiction causes chemical changes in the brain, which causes the individual to repeatedly use drugs or alcohol, until they feel almost helpless to stop using. Even when the individual does stop using and enters recovery, there is still a very real risk of relapse.

Many factors come into play when the individual tries to resist using again and one very important factor is their willpower. Improving willpower can help avoid relapse.


Can Willpower Be Strengthened?

Yes, willpower can be strengthened. That is the good news. As a person exercises more willpower, the better he or she gets at being strong-willed. And there are ways to improve self-control. People who fatigue their ability to exert self-control do so because they believe they have no willpower. The belief in one’s own self-control is powerful. Researchers also suggest that pacing oneself when it comes to long-term willpower is necessary.


Why Does Willpower Fail?

It is important to understand that everyone experiences lapses in willpower and self-control. As human beings, we naturally lose control sometimes. Everyone, including individuals struggling with addiction and those who don’t have an addiction suffers from willpower failure from time to time. Researchers have found that willpower seems to be a limited resource, and as such, it can be depleted.


The Power of Reward

Getting an immediate reward is what led the individual to get addicted in the first place, but rewards can also be positive in the battle to stay sober. One of the reasons people experience willpower fatigue is because they are constantly saying no to themselves with little noticeable reward. To help strengthen your willpower, you can reward yourself in positive ways. If a person has resisted the urge to relapse for a period of time, he or she should give themselves a reward to help boost willpower. This could be a day off from work, a short vacation, a new purchase you have been saving up for, or any reward that is healthy. Ultimately, the more the individual works toward a successful recovery, the easier it will become to exert self-control and avoid relapse.

Hired Power works to help your family bring recovery home. From intervention to aftercare, we are here to support you every step of the way. While you focus on healing, we take care of the details. For more information, call us today at 800.910.9299.