New Study Finds Frustration Plays a Role In Addiction

New Study Finds Frustration Plays a Role In Addiction

Researchers believe frustration may be an factor of substance abuse.

Researchers have known that factors like cravings, impulsivity, and habit are strong contributors to addiction. However, the results of a new study from researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston show frustration is an additional factor that can also lead to addiction escalation.1

Related post: Alcohol-Induced Blackouts: A Precurser of Addiction

Study Results

According to a report from Science Daily, the study hypothesized that frustration, in addition to cravings, impulsivity, and habit, is a contributing factor to addiction. In the study, scientists trained to press a lever to receive either a banana-flavored sucrose pellet or an intravenous infusion of fentanyl, which is a synthetic opioid. If the rats didn’t get what they expected, they would push the lever repeatedly or hold it down for a longer time as their frustration increased.

Similarly, this is much like how you might get frustrated when your TV remote isn’t working. To express your frustration, you might repeatedly push the “ON” button or hold it down for a longer time.

The study showed that all rats would push a lever for an intravenous infusion of fentanyl, but about 10% of them would escalate their intake of fentanyl to about double that of the average rat. Researchers concluded that these susceptible rats are frustrated that they are not getting enough fentanyl to satisfy them, even though they’re taking as much as their bodies can handle.

In return, researchers believe this study has implications for future studies of opioid use disorder and will help scientists further understand how frustration (in addition to cravings, impulsivity, and habit) can contribute to increased substance abuse.2

How Does Frustration Play a Role In Addiction?

Although addiction is very much a physical issue, many of the underlying causes are emotional. As demonstrated by the study referenced above, some easily frustrated people may be more susceptible to negative coping behaviors, like misusing drugs or alcohol. 

The relationship between one’s mental health and addiction is like a revolving door. Poor mental health reinforces substance abuse and addiction. Similarly, substance abuse reinforces poor mental health. In addition, if you don’t have the tools to control your response to negative stimuli like frustration, you’re more likely to develop emotional problems and substance use disorders.3

How Can Addiction Treatment Help?

If you’re addicted to drugs or alcohol, a medical detox center is often an excellent place to start your recovery journey. During detox, addiction treatment professionals will treat uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms so you can safely detox from drugs and alcohol. You’ll also meet with counselors and recovery specialists who will help you manage the psychological symptoms of withdrawal. 

After detox, continuing your treatment can help you develop the skills and tools required to sustain long-lasting sobriety. By going to an addiction treatment program, you will also address the underlying causes of your addiction, which may include any difficulties you have dealing with frustration. 

Related post: New Study Finds Evidence That Heavy Drinking May Change DNA

Get Help For Addiction Today

If you’re ready to make a change in your life, the compassionate professionals at Briarwood Detox Center are here to help you. We offer individualized drug and alcohol detox programs for people who need help to recover from addiction. Please call (512) 262-4426 or contact us online to get started.


  1. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs00213-020-05742-2 
  2. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/03/210301171016.htm 
  3. https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2013-44085-026 

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