– Addiction & Recovery

What is drug addiction?

Addiction is a chronic disease characterized by drug seeking and use that is compulsive, or difficult to control, despite harmful consequences. The path to drug addiction begins with the voluntary act of taking drugs. However over time, a person’s ability to choose not take a drug becomes compromised and seeking and taking the drug becomes compulsive. This is mostly due to the effects of long-term drug exposure on brain function. Addiction affects parts of the brain involved in reward and motivation, learning and memory, and control over behavior.

What are treatments for drug addiction?

There are many options that have been successful in treating drug addiction. A range of care with a tailored treatment program and follow-up options can be crucial to success. Treatment should include both medical and mental health services as needed with follow-up care that may include community- or family-based recovery support systems.

How are behavioral therapies used to treat drug addiction?

Behavioral therapies help patients:

  • modify their attitudes and behaviors related to drug use
  • increase healthy life skills
  • persist with other forms of treatment, such as medication

Patients can receive treatment in many different settings with various approaches.

Outpatient behavioral treatment includes a wide variety of programs for patients who visit a behavioral health therapist on a regular schedule. Most of the programs involve individual or group drug counseling, or both. These programs typically offer forms of behavioral therapy such as:

  • cognitive-behavioral therapy, which helps patients recognize, avoid, and cope with the situations in which they are most likely to use drugs
  • multidimensional family therapy—developed for adolescents with drug abuse problems as well as their families—which addresses a range of influences on their drug abuse patterns and is designed to improve overall family functioning
  • motivational interviewing, which makes the most of people’s readiness to change their behavior and enter treatment
  • motivational incentives (contingency management), which uses positive reinforcement to encourage abstinence from drugs

Recovery Resources:

SAMHSA National Helpline for treatment locators in your area:


Alcoholics Anonymous, www.AA.org

Narcotics Anonymous, www.NA.org

Gamblers Anonymous, www.gamblersanonymous.org

Sex Addicts Anonymous, www.saa-recovery.org

American Addiction Centers, 888-499-4591, https://recovery.org