Addiction and Substance Abuse Therapy

Treating Substance Addiction

Addiction is a chronic disease characterized by compulsive, or uncontrollable, substance seeking and use despite harmful consequences and changes in the brain, which can be long lasting.

These changes in the brain can lead to the harmful behaviors seen in people who use drugs or alcohol. Addiction is also a relapsing disease. Relapse is the return to alcohol or drug use after an attempt to stop.

The path to addiction begins with the voluntary act of taking drugs or alcohol. But over time, a person’s ability to choose not to do so becomes compromised. Seeking and taking the substance becomes compulsive.

This is mostly due to the effects of long-term substance exposure on brain function. Addiction affects parts of the brain involved in reward and motivation, learning and memory, and control over behavior. Addiction is a disease that affects both the brain and behavior.

Can Addiction be Treated?

Yes, but it’s not simple.

Because addiction is a chronic condition, people can’t simply stop using substances for a few days and be cured.

Most patients need long-term or repeated care to stop using completely and recover their lives.

Addiction treatment must help the person do the following:

  • Stop using substances
  • Stay substance-free
  • Be productive in the family, at work, and in society

What are Treatments for Addiction?

There are many options that have been successful in treating addiction, including:

  • In and out-patient treatment programs
  • Individual and family therapy
  • Medication consultation
  • Skills training
  • Evaluation and treatment for co-occurring mental health issues such as depression and anxiety
  • Long-term follow-up to prevent relapse

A thorough evaluation by a mental health provider can determine the best course of treatment for you. Treatment approaches tailored to each patient’s substance use patterns and any co-occurring medical, mental, and social problems can lead to continued recovery.

The above information is from the National Institute of Mental Health

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