According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, addiction is a chronic, often relapsing, brain disease that causes compulsive drug seeking and use despite harmful consequences to the addicted individual and to those around them. Although the initial decision to take drugs is voluntary for most people, the brain changes that occur over time challenge an addicted person’s self control and hamper their ability to resist intense impulses to take drugs.
Fortunately, treatments are available to help people counter addiction’s powerful and disruptive effects. Research shows that combining addiction treatment medications with behavioral therapy is the best way to ensure success for most patients. Treatment approaches that are tailored to each patient’s drug use patterns and any co-occurring medical, psychiatric, and social problems can lead to sustained recovery and a life without drug use.