We hear this question a lot – for example, it’s one of the questions teenagers ask during NIDA’s chat day National Drug and Alcohol Truth Week®. The short answer is that unfortunately there is no cure for addiction.
However, the longer answer is more hopeful: there may not be a cure, but there is treatment that will help people return to full and healthy lives.
How does addiction treatment work?
First, it helps to know a few things about addiction. It is a complex disease that can alter the way a person’s brain works in important ways. Addiction can occur at any age, but it usually starts when a person is young.
When a person first uses a drug, this is usually their choice. If you keep using it, it can become difficult to stop. Continued drug use while harming a person’s life is a sign of addiction.
Lots Types of treatment Work for people with addiction. No single treatment is right for everyone; In fact, the treatment often combines some of these options. They include:
- Behavioral counseling.
- This can help people change their attitudes and behaviors around drug use. For example, they may need to learn how to avoid or deal with “triggers” that could lead them to use drugs again.
- Behavioral counseling can also teach healthy life skills. For example, if a person has used drugs to escape stress, they can learn to deal with stress in a healthier way.
- Some medications can help the brain work normally again. They can also decrease cravings for the drug, which can lead to relapse. Medicines are currently available to treat opioid, nicotine, and alcohol addiction.
- Medicines can also treat “concurrent” mental illnesses, such as depression or anxiety, which sometimes contribute to addiction or lead people to try drugs in the first place.
Some other things to know about treatment:
- Withdrawal symptoms.
- Many people don’t stop using drugs because they experience uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms while trying. There are two options that can help:
- Long-term follow-up to prevent relapse.
- Addiction is a chronic (long-term) disease, so follow-up treatment is important. It could include both medical and mental health services. Treatment must take into account all of a person’s needs, not just their drug use.
If you think you may be a drug addict, it is important to speak to a doctor about it. It can be one of the best things you can do to protect your body, mind, and future.
NIDA provides more information on addiction treatment:
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