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 tracks 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. For example, methadone treatment has been shown to
increase participation in behavioral therapy and decrease both drug use and
criminal behavior. However, individual treatment outcomes depend on the extent
and nature of the patient's problems, the appropriateness of treatment and
related services used to address those problems, and the quality of interaction
between the patient and his or her treatment providers.
RELAPSE RATES FOR ADDICTION RESEMBLE THOSE OF OTHER CHRONIC DISEASES SUCH AS
DIABETES, HYPERTENSION, AND ASTHMA.
Like other chronic diseases, addiction can be managed successfully. Treatment
enables people to counteract addiction's powerful disruptive effects on the
brain and behavior and to regain 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.
Unfortunately, when relapse occurs many deem treatment a failure. This is not
the case: successful treatment for addiction typically requires continual
evaluation and modification as appropriate, similar to the approach taken for
other chronic diseases. For example, when a patient is receiving active
treatment for hypertension and symptoms decrease, treatment is deemed
successful, even though symptoms may recur when treatment is discontinued. For
the addicted patient, lapses to drug abuse do not indicate failure-rather, they
signify that treatment needs to be reinstated or adjusted, or that alternate
treatment is needed.