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Addiction Recovery

  1. Table of ContentsPrint
  2. Recovery Is Possible
  3. What Causes Addiction?
  4. Management or Cures
  5. A Chronic Condition
  6. Abstinence Doesn't Equal Recovery
  7. Addiction Recovery Options
  8. Recovery and the Psyche

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Recovery Is Possible

Addiction recovery is possible, attainable, and available if you know where to find it and have expectations that are realistic and practical. For those struggling with an alcohol or drug addiction, recovery could mean the difference between life and death.

Addiction is a chronic, recurring illness that requires treatment. With the right treatment, recovery is within your reach. The road isn't always easy. It requires self-awareness, commitment, self-discipline, the support of others, and perseverance during setbacks. You don't have to do it alone. In fact, the best results come when working with others to accomplish your goals. Recovery from substance abuse and alcoholism can happen.

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What Causes Addiction?

It's one of many difficult-to-answer questions. What is addiction and why, even with a strong desire to stop using, is it so hard for people to do so? Why, when faced with the potential for such overwhelming negative repercussions like the disastrous effects to one's physical health and personal appearance, the tarnished relationships with family, friend and loved ones, the financial woes, and any legal entanglements, do people relapse after a hard-earned period of sobriety? The answers aren't simple, and they vary considerably from one individual to the next.

Experts do know that substance use changes the way the brain operates and experiences pleasure. This makes the substance more appealing and rewarding. Over time, normal sources of pleasure and happiness cannot compete with the substance. If someone tries to engage in a period of recovery, they may experience less positive feelings and increased depression or anxiety. This can lead to cravings and continued use.

Video: You Are Not Alone

The following video shows several people affected by addiction in different ways, either as addicts or as someone who loves someone who struggled with substance abuse, and recovery from addiction.

Credit: Stories of Hope

The toll-free Drug Abuse Helpline at 1-888-744-0069Who Answers? can help you find an addiction recovery program that meets your individual needs. Call today for a free, confidential analysis and the information you're looking for. Treatment representatives are available 24 hours a day/7 days a week. Take the first step towards and call NOW.

Management or Cures

Recovery is a lifelong process that takes focus and attention every day.

Woman with arms out by the water

The root causes of addiction are complex, and are the subject of ongoing study. The process of addiction recovery is life-long, which is a fact that many don't understand. Widespread adherence to a Western medicine model's concept of illness has many people on the hunt for an absolute cure to all that ails us.

That being said, many practitioners in the medical and mental/behavioral health fields recognize that there are a large number of conditions that are chronic. For some, these conditions require management instead of a "quick cure."

A Chronic Condition

There doesn't seem to be an easy cure in the world of addiction, which might put people off in attempting to manage it in the first place. Like with other chronic diseases such as diabetes and hypertension, the recurrence of symptoms is common and expected.

Relapse shouldn't indicate a failure of treatment, but merely a temporary setback in the management of a chronic condition.

People with chronic autoimmune conditions, for example, may see their condition managed superbly with new medications for a lengthy period of time, only to suffer a bout of remission after years. Yet people don't view this as an absolute failure of treatment, or as reinforcing justification to not treat in the first place. Addiction is the same. Treatment of drug or alcohol addiction necessitates acceptance of a chronic disease management approach.

Abstinence Doesn't Equal Recovery

Complicating the picture of addiction recovery is the fact that, while an integral first step in the recovery process, abstaining from using drugs or alcohol even for long bouts of time does not equate to recovery. This is true because addiction extends past only drug using behaviors to impact relationships, thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.

To be successful in recovery, not only does abstinence from alcohol or drugs need to occur and be sustained, but also one must actively follow some sort of program of change.


Loosely defined, such a program might include elements of:

  • Psychotherapy.
  • Medication-assisted recovery or pharmacology when appropriate.
  • Self-introspection and reflection.
  • Learning the skills to promote sobriety.
  • Active participation in self-help or recovery groups (e.g. 12-step programs, AA).

Recovery is a process of continued self-education and personal growth, as one learns to make fundamental changes in the way he or she interacts with their environment to enhance quality of life. By changing thought patterns and behavioral routines, the person can find recovery and well-being.

Addiction Recovery Options

There are a number of options available to you as you travel the road to recovery. There are outpatient facilities and inpatient rehab centers - each with their own benefits and drawbacks. In some cases, an addiction recovery program begins with an initial detoxification phase, during which time the body adjusts to functioning without the substance it has become dependent upon. Supervised detox is needed if there is a risk to physical health or mental health associated with detoxing independently.

Substances that require supervised detox include:

  • Alcohol.
  • Sedatives like benzodiazepines and barbiturates.

Supervised detox can also be helpful in preventing relapse for drugs with very uncomfortable (but not necessarily dangerous) withdrawal syndromes, such as heroin and prescription opiates. Detox can cost anywhere between $600 to $1,000 per day, so the total cost will vary depending on the severity of addiction, substance being used, and level of care needed throughout the detox period.

Studies suggest that a detox program followed by a formal drug abuse treatment program within an inpatient drug rehab tends to lead to positive recovery outcomes with longer periods of abstinence and fewer relapses. Outpatient programs, however, can be successful when the recovering person has a strong support system in place at home that supports his efforts in achieving and maintaining sobriety. These programs can have very different costs, with inpatient costing $200 to $900 per day and outpatient costing $100 to $500 per treatment session. These costs will vary based on the duration of treatment as well as location and luxuries of the program.

It's important to understand that recovery is a lifelong process that takes focus and attention every day.

Video: Running Towards Recovery

The following video tells the story of a man who faced alcoholism and obesity but decided one day he'd had enough and decided to try running. It was extremely difficult but he kept at it. Eventually, he found sobriety and health in running distance races of between 25 and 100 miles. He approaches his recovery the same way he approaches races - one step at a time.

Credit: Partnership for Drug-Free Kids

Recovery and the Psyche

Self-discovery is an important part of the addiction recovery process. Understanding why an addiction to drugs or alcohol occurred in the first place is a major first step in lasting recovery from a problem with substance abuse. This is accomplished in a number of ways including:

Different treatment centers report varying levels of success with their specific recovery programs. One method that is gaining particular favor is a holistic approach in which the body, mind, and spirit are explored in an effort to reach long-term recovery.

Don't let drug abuse and addiction destroy your life. Seek recovery help today. Contact our confidential, toll-free Drug Abuse Helpline at 1-888-744-0069Who Answers?. Treatment support specialists are available to assist you 24 hours a day/7 days a week.

Last updated on April 25, 2018
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