Can Addiction be Treated Successfully?

Treatment and Recovery

Can Addiction be Treated Successfully?

Yes. Addiction is a treatable disease.

Discoveries in the science of addiction have led to advances in drug abuse treatment that help people stop abusing drugs and resume their productive lives.

Can Addiction Be Cured?

Addiction need not be a life sentence. Like other chronic diseases, addiction can be managed successfully with a community addiction for support. Treatment enables people to counteract addiction’s powerful disruptive effects on brain and behavior and regain control of their lives.

These images of the dopamine transporter show the brain’s remarkable potential to recover, at least partially, after a long abstinence from drugs – in this case, methamphetamine.

Source: The Journal of Neuroscience, 21(23):9414-9418. 200126 

Does Relapse to Drug Abuse Mean Treatment Has Failed?

No. The chronic nature of the disease means that claiming help for recurring drug and alcohol abuse is not only possible, but likely, with relapse rates similar to those for other well-characterized chronic medical illnesses such as diabetes, hypertension, and asthma, which also have both physiological and behavioral components.

Treatment of chronic diseases involves changing deeply imbedded behaviors, and relapse does not mean treatment failure.

Relapse rates for drug-addicted patients are compared with those suffering from diabetes, hypertension, and asthma. Relapse is common and similar across these illnesses (as is adherence to medication). Thus, drug addiction should be treated like any other chronic illness, with relapse serving as a trigger for renewed intervention.

Source: McLellan et al., JAMA, 284:1689-1695, 200027.

From NIDA.