Wilson Compton, M.D.
National Institute on Drug Abuse
More than 20 million Americans have a drug or alcohol problem. Watching a loved one battle the disease of addiction can make you feel powerless; but there is hope. Addiction recovery is possible, and many former addicts go on to live healthy, productive lives.
Addiction is a disease of the brain, just like asthma is a disease of the lungs and heart disease is a disease of the heart. Brain imaging scans show that repeated drug use and drinking can damage the parts of the brain that control judgment and decision-making. Substance abuse actually “rewires” the brain so that addicts begin to crave the drug above all else, even though they know it is bad for them. Key to helping a loved one who is addicted to drugs or alcohol is thinking of addiction as a brain disease, not a sign of weakness or poor character.
While the disease of addiction is treatable, most addicts can’t get sober without help. Alcohol and addiction treatment can occur in a variety of settings. It may include medication, psychotherapy and family therapy. In all settings, addiction recovery is focused on removing drugs or alcohol from a person’s life, and addressing the physical, psychological, emotional and social issues that contributed to drug use.
This Addiction topic includes information, videos and resources to help you understand the disease of addiction and how you can help your loved ones into addiction recovery.
Drug and alcohol addiction can tear families apart, destroy careers and ruin lives; but recovery is possible. Please take some time to explore this section of our website.