Understanding Addiction

Addiction is a Chronic Disease

Drug addiction – including opioid use disorder – is a chronic disease characterized by drug use that is compulsive, or difficult to control, despite harmful consequences.

Drug addiction is a complex disease. Many people mistakenly think that those who use drugs lack moral principles or willpower and that they could stop their drug use simply by choosing to. In reality, quitting usually takes more than good intentions or a strong will.

Drug addiction is treatable and can be successfully managed.

No single factor can predict whether a person will become addicted to drugs. A combination of genetic, environmental, and developmental factors influences risk for addiction. The more risk factors a person has, the greater the chance that taking drugs can lead to addiction.

It’s common for a person to relapse, but relapse doesn’t mean that treatment doesn’t work. As with other chronic health conditions, treatment should be ongoing and should be adjusted based on how the patient responds.

Drugs change the brain in ways that make quitting hard, even for those who want to.

Prevention efforts make a huge difference. Teachers, parents, and healthcare providers have crucial roles in educating young people and preventing drug use and addiction.

For those struggling with addiction: The Helpline Center’s Care Coordination Program provides one-on-one support for people (or loved ones) struggling with opioid misuse. Informational videos explaining the program can be viewed on YouTube, or for immediate assistance, call 1-800-920-4343 or text OPIOID to 898211 to connect with a care coordinator.

Source: National Institute on Drug Abuse

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