The best programs
provide a combination of therapies and other services to meet the unique needs of the individual patient,
which are shaped by such issues as age, race, culture, sexual orientation, gender, pregnancy, parenting, housing, and employment,
as well as history of physical and sexual abuse and other trauma (NIDA, 1999).
Learn More: Review information about the use and effectiveness of different treatment approaches (PDF 400 KB) from NIDA.
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
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
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.