Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide

Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide

Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide

Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide

Excerpt

DRUG ADDICTION IS A COMPLEX ILLNESS. It is characterized by intense and, at times, uncontrollable drug craving, along with compulsive drug seeking and use that persist even in the face of devastating consequences.

Many people do not realize that addiction is a brain disease. While the path to drug addiction begins with the act of taking drugs, over time a person’s ability to choose not to do so becomes compromised, and seeking and consuming the drug becomes compulsive. This behavior results largely from the effects of prolonged drug exposure on brain functioning. Addiction affects multiple brain circuits, including those involved in reward and motivation, learning and memory, and inhibitory control over behavior. Some individuals are more vulnerable than others to becoming addicted, depending on genetic makeup, age of exposure to drugs, other environmental influences, and the interplay of all these factors.

Addiction is often more than just compulsive drug taking—it can also produce far-reaching consequences. For example, drug abuse and addiction increase a person’s risk for a variety of other mental and physical illnesses related to a drug-abusing lifestyle or the toxic effects of the drugs themselves. Additionally, a wide range of dysfunctional behaviors can result from drug abuse and interfere with normal functioning in the family, the workplace, and the broader community.

Because drug abuse and addiction have so many dimensions and disrupt so many aspects of an individual’s life, treatment is not simple. Effective treatment programs typically incorporate many components, each directed to a particular aspect of the illness and its consequences. Addiction treatment must help the individual stop using drugs, maintain a drug-free lifestyle, and achieve productive functioning in the family, at work, and in society. Because addiction is a disease, people cannot . . .

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