NIDA InfoFacts: Treatment Approaches for Drug Addiction
NOTE: This is a fact sheet covering research findings on effective treatment approaches for drug abuse and addiction. If you are seeking treatment, please call 1-800-662-HELP(4357) for information on hotlines, counseling services, or treatment options in your State. This is the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment's National Drug and Alcohol Treatment Service. Drug treatment programs by State also may be found online at www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov.
Drug addiction is a complex but treatable 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 abuse becomes chronic, with relapses possible even after long periods of abstinence. In fact, relapse to drug 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 episodes of treatment before sustained 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 and addiction. Like people with diabetes or heart disease, people in treatment for drug addiction will also need to change their behavior to adopt a more healthful lifestyle.
In 2006, 23.6 million persons aged 12 or older needed treatment for an illicit drug or alcohol use problem (9.6 percent of the persons aged 12 or older). Of these, 2.5 million (10.8 percent of those who needed treatment) received treatment at a specialty facility. Thus, 21.2 million persons (8.6 percent of the population aged 12 or older) needed treatment for an illicit drug or alcohol use problem but did not receive it. These estimates are similar to the estimates for 2005.*
Untreated substance abuse and addiction add significant costs to families and communities, including those related to violence and property crimes, prison expenses, court and criminal costs, emergency room visits, healthcare utilization, child abuse and neglect, lost child support, foster care and welfare costs, reduced productivity, and unemployment.
The cost to society of illicit drug abuse alone is $181 billion annually.1 When combined with alcohol and tobacco costs, they exceed $500 billion including healthcare, criminal justice, and lost productivity.2,3 Successful drug abuse treatment can help reduce these costs in addition to crime, and the spread of HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, and other infectious diseases. It is estimated that for every dollar spent on addiction treatment programs, there is a $4 to $7 reduction in the cost of drug-related crimes. With some outpatient programs, total savings can exceed costs by a ratio of 12:1.
Reprinted with the permission of the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
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