In addition to stopping drug abuse, the goal of treatment is to return people to productive functioning in the family, workplace, and community. According to research that keeps a record of individuals in treatment over extended periods, most people who get into and remain in treatment stop using drugs, decrease their criminal activity and improve their occupational, social, and psychological functioning.
Individual treatment results depend on the extent and nature of the patient’s problems, the suitability of treatment and related services used to address those problems, and the quality of interaction between the patient and his or her treatment providers.
Like other chronic diseases, addiction can be managed successfully. Treatment enables people to fight addiction’s powerful disruptive effects on the brain and behavior and to retake control of their lives. The chronic nature of the disease means that relapsing to drug abuse is not only possible but also likely, with relapse rates similar to those for other well-characterized chronic medical illnesses—such as diabetes, hypertension, and asthma that also have both physiological and behavioral components.
Unfortunately, when relapse occurs many believe the treatment to be a failure. This is not the case: successful treatment for addiction typically requires continual evaluation and changes as appropriate, similar to the approach taken for other chronic and long-term diseases. For the addicted patient, lapses to drug abuse do not show failure—rather, they mean that treatment needs to be reinstated or adjusted, or that a different treatment is needed.