Blending Perspectives and Building Common Ground. Understanding Addiction, Substance Abuse Treatment, and Recovery


Substance abuse is a major public health problem that affects millions of people and places enormous financial and social burdens on society.  Addiction can be a chronic, life-threatening condition.  Most people whose use has progressed to addiction cannot simply stop using alcohol or drugs, no matter how strong their inner resolve, without one or more courses of structured substance abuse treatment.  Like virtually any other medical treatment, addiction treatment cannot guarantee lifelong health.  Relapse, often part of the recovery process, is always possible.  Even if a person never achieves perfect abstinence, addiction treatment can reduce the number and duration of relapses, minimize related problems such as crime and poor overall health, reduce the impact of parental addiction on children, and improve the individual's ability to function in daily life.  Nearly one-third of substance abuse treatment clients achieve sustained abstinence from their first attempt at recovery.  An additional one-third have a period of relapse episodes but eventually achieve long-term abstinence.  The remaining third have chronic relapses that result in eventual death from complications of their addiction.