Drug addiction is a brain disease that affects behavior.
Drug addiction has well-recognized cognitive, behavioral, and physiological characteristics that contribute to continued use of drugs despite the harmful consequences. Scientists have also found that chronic drug abuse alters the brain’s anatomy and chemistry and that these changes can last for months or years after the individual has stopped using drugs. This transformation may help explain why addicted persons are at a high risk of relapse to drug abuse even after long periods of abstinence and why they persist in seeking drugs despite the consequences.
Recovery from drug addiction requires effective treatment, followed by management of the problem over time.
Drug addiction is a serious problem that can be treated and managed throughout its course. Effective drug abuse treatment engages participants in a therapeutic process, retains them in treatment for an appropriate length of time, and helps them learn to maintain abstinence. Multiple episodes of treatment may be required. Outcomes for drug abusing offenders in the community can be improved by monitoring drug use and by encouraging continued participation in treatment.
Treatment must last long enough to produce stable behavioral changes.
In treatment, the drug abuser is taught to break old patterns of thinking and behaving and to learn new skills for avoiding drug use and criminal behavior. Individuals with severe drug problems and co-occurring disorders typically need longer treatment (e.g., a minimum of 3 months) and more comprehensive services. Early in treatment, the drug abuser begins a therapeutic process of change. In later stages, he or she addresses other problems related to drug abuse and learns how to manage them as well.
Assessment is the first step in treatment.
A history of drug or alcohol use may suggest the need to conduct a comprehensive assessment to determine the nature and extent of an individual
As a result of scientific research, we know that addiction is a disease that affects both brain and behavior.