Recovery from Substance Abuse
Recovery is the process of regaining a healthy balance in the lives of persons adversely affected, directly or indirectly, by drug addiction. The recovery process can affect the social, physical and cultural effects of addiction. The process may take months or years, and often is characterized by frequent relapses. Like people working to recover from other chronic diseases such as diabetes or asthma, people working to recover from addictions often require substantial support from others, including loved ones and professionals.
Drug addiction is a public health problem that affects many people and has wide-ranging consequences. Although initial drug use might be voluntary, drugs of abuse alter brain circuitry, which in turn affect human behavior. Once addiction develops, these brain changes interfere with an individual’s ability to make voluntary decisions, leading to compulsive drug craving, seeking and use.
The impact of addiction can be far reaching. In addition to the potential health effects (cardiovascular disease, stroke, cancer, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, and lung disease) drug addicts often have difficulty maintaining healthy relationships. The treatment process often involves a strategy to rebuild the physical health of the addicts as well as mending relationships with friends, family and co-workers.
In 2004, approximately 22.5 million Americans aged 12 or older needed treatment for substance (alcohol or illicit drug) abuse and addiction. Of these, only 3.8 million people received it.
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 and addiction. Like people with diabetes or heart disease, people in treatment for drug addiction will need to change behavior to adopt a more healthful lifestyle.
Treatment and recovery can offer addicts a healthy lifestyle free from the challenges that accompany substance abuse. The first step is to seek treatment and enlist the help of family and friends to ensure a successful transition into sobriety.