Every Addiction is Treatable
One in ten Americans over the age of 12 suffer from addiction to drugs or alcohol, but merely 11 percent receive treatment for their condition. Millions of Americans are suffering from a disease that is treatable. Despite research findings that support addiction as a chronic, but treatable disease, many still fall into the trap of believing that addiction is a moral failing without an effective means of treatment.
According to the Western Journal of Medicine, despite the fact that addiction has been recognized as a chronic disease for more than 25 years, stigmatizing attitudes of medical personnel often create barriers to treatment. According to the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, a lack of insurance and the significant cost of treatment for addiction are the two primary obstacles cited by Americans who recognize that they are addicted and need help. Fortunately, strides are being made to improve the coverage available to those suffering from addiction now that Obama has named Substance Abuse Treatment one of the required services of the Affordable Care Act.
What is Addiction?
Addiction is defined as a disease of the brain that is both complex and chronic. It is characterized by compulsive cravings, drug-seeking behaviors, and use of substances that progresses causing devastating consequences. This developmental disease can persist through the entire life of an individual if left untreated. Although there are still disagreements as to whether addiction is the result of voluntary behaviors or those which are involuntary, most now agree that addiction is a treatable condition that, with the right help, can be overcome.
How Addiction Alters the Brain
Addiction is a disease of the brain; it’s a disease known to cause a number of changes within the brain especially in the areas of the brain responsible for processing rewards. These alterations take place in various areas of the brain causing circuits to essentially “short-out” and react differently. According to NIDA, drug use and the subsequent addiction that follows can lead to:
- Changes in cognitive function which affect learning, memory and individual habits.
- Changes in impulse control and decision making.
- Changes in cognitive awareness.
- Changes in mood and emotional function.
A number of treatment options now shed light on the many obstacles faced by those suffering from addiction. Through medical intervention, support, behavioral therapy, and personalized approaches to treatment, millions of people have realized the truth—that addiction is a treatable disease. The most common treatment options currently available include:
- Medications including those used in the treatment of withdrawal symptoms, mental illness and impulse control.
- Individual counseling
- Group counseling
- Behavioral therapies
- Support groups
In addition to these treatment approaches which are widely used in helping people to overcome addiction, promising advances in research have been made and new treatment options are on the horizon. Such advances may include:
- Addiction Vaccines which would help to reduce the risk of addiction.
- Long Acting Medications which would reduce the need for clinical support while providing a cost-effective approach to the treatment of various types of drug abuse.
- Medication Combinations that continue to emerge and be tested for patient safety and efficacy in effectively treating addictions of various stages.
If you or someone you love is addicted to drugs or alcohol, don’t let “fear of the unknown” or a “stigma” keep you from getting the help that you need. Every addiction is treatable!