Can Addiction Be Cured?

Treatment Guru

Addiction is a chronic disease, like heart disease or asthma. As such, it’s not really accurate to think about a “cure” for addiction any more than it would be appropriate to talk about a cure for those diseases. Addiction is something that people can struggle with the rest of their lives.

The good news is that addiction can be effectively treated and managed so that it doesn’t disrupt your health, happiness, or ability to live a productive and fulfilling life. Decades of research on the biology and psychology of substance misuse disorders have led to well-tested, research-based methods to help people recover.

Relapse Doesn’t Mean Failure

Many people think that a relapse in the course of recovery means they have failed — but that’s not the case. Since addiction is a chronic disease, relapse is a part of the process. Relapse rates for addiction are similar to rates for other chronic medical illnesses, but newer treatments are specially designed to help prevent relapses.

It’s important to keep in mind, though, that when it comes to drugs, relapse can be very dangerous — it’s definitely better to avoid it if at all possible. As recovery progresses, a person’s tolerance to previous levels of drug exposure begins to fall. When a person relapses, they often take the dose they’re used to from before they started recovery, which can lead to hospitalization or even death.

Principles Of Effective Treatment

In general, medication is the most effective line of treatment for opioid misuse problems. Medication can block neurotransmitters that foster cravings and might encourage relapse, and it’s especially effective when combined with behavioral therapy or counseling.

For people with problems misusing substances like stimulants or cannabis, there are currently no clinically tested medication to help with treatment, so recovery programs will focus on behavioral and psychological solutions. Treatment should be focused on each individual patient’s drug use patterns, as well as their medical, social, and mental histories.

Medication is also used in many cases to detoxify people from drugs. Detoxification can be an important step in recovery, as it purges the chemical hooks from a person’s system that cause withdrawal and cravings. Detox is not a substitute for treatment, though, and isn’t sufficient to help a person recover on their own. Detox without additional treatment usually leads to relapse.

Medication For Drug Addiction

Medication plays an important role in various stages of substance misuse treatment, helping patients stop using drugs, stay in treatment, and avoid relapse.

Some medications are designed specifically to help patients avoid withdrawal. When patients first stop using a substance they’re addicted to, they can experience severe psychological physiological symptoms, from insomnia to depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues. These symptoms provide a powerful impulse to start using substances again, but reducing the symptoms with medication can help mitigate those urges.

Behavioral Therapies For Drug Addiction

In addition to medicinal treatment, behavioral therapy helps people with substance misuse problems to change their attitudes and behaviors. They’re better able to cope with stressful situations and triggers that might push them to relapse.

Whether it’s cognitive behavioral therapy, which helps patients avoid situations that might push them back into drug use, or family therapy, which helps create a more supportive and functional environment for recovering patients.

No matter what the final process looks like, stopping drug use is only the first step of a long, complicated recovery process. Addiction can cause major disruptions in a person’s life, not just in their own bodies but in their families, careers, and communities.

Because the effects of addiction can be so broad, treatment needs to address the entire problem. And while the long-term effects of addiction may never go away entirely, anyone can find the help they need, with the appropriate support.

Answers sometimes lead to questions.