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Addiction (chemical dependency, substance abuse) is a complex but treatable brain disease. It is characterized by compulsive drug craving, seeking and use that persist even in the face of severe adverse consequences. For many people, drug addiction becomes chronic, with relapses possible even after long periods of abstinence. In fact, relapse to substance abuse occurs at rates similar to those for other well-characterized, chronic medical illnesses such as diabetes, hypertension and asthma. As a chronic, recurring illness, addiction may require repeated treatments to increase the intervals between relapses and diminish their intensity, until abstinence is achieved. Through treatment tailored to individual needs, people with drug addiction can recover and lead productive lives. The ultimate goal of drug addiction treatment is to enable an individual to achieve lasting abstinence, but the immediate goals are to reduce drug abuse, improve the patient’s ability to function and minimize the medical and social complications of drug abuse. Like people with diabetes or heart disease, people in treatment for drug addiction will need to change behavior to adopt a healthier lifestyle.


How can you tell whether you, or someone close to you, may have an addiction problem? Answering the following four questions can help you find out. (To help remember these questions, note that the first letter of a key word in each of the four questions spells "CAGE".) ...more


There are many symptoms related to drinking problems. Alcoholism is considered a progressive disease, meaning that the symptoms and effects of drinking alcohol become increasingly more severe over time. Early signs of alcoholism include frequent intoxication, an established pattern of heavy drinking ...more

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