Abuse and Addiction

"Drug Abuse is a Preventable Behavior"

Demonstrating that addiction is a treatable disease. Medications and behavioral therapies can provide long lasting benefits for people trying to overcome addiction, especially when used together. Addiction treatment promotes continued abstinence, which can reverse some of the detrimental brain changes caused by addiction, as shown in pioneering imaging studies. Successful drug abuse treatment also reduces crime and other societal costs, including health costs, now in the billions.
Decreasing the spread of HIV. The development of treatments for injection drug use (IDU), will contribute to the decline in IDU-associated HIV infections. Innovative community-based research shows that drug abuse treatment reduces risk behaviors leading to HIV transmission; thus, drug abuse treatment is HIV/AIDS prevention


"Addiction is a treatable disease"

• Addiction is a complex disease. No single factor can predict who will become addicted to drugs. Addiction is influenced by a tangle of factors involving genes, environment, and age of first use. Recent advances in genetic research have enabled researchers to begin to uncover which genes make a person more vulnerable, which protect a person against addiction, and how genes and environment interact.

• Addiction is a developmental disease. It usually begins in adolescence or even childhood when the brain continues to undergo changes. The prefrontal cortex—located just behind the forehead—governs judgment and decision-making functions and is the last part of the brain to develop. This may help explain why teens are prone to risk-taking, are particularly vulnerable to drug abuse, and why exposure to drugs at this critical time may affect propensity for future addiction.

• Prevention and early intervention work best.
 The developmental years might also present opportunities for resiliency and for receptivity to intervention that can alter the course of addiction. We already know many of the risk factors that lead to drug abuse and addiction—mental illness, physical or sexual abuse, aggressive behavior, academic problems, poor social skills, and poor parent-child relations. This knowledge, combined with better understanding of the motivational processes at work in the young brain, can be applied to prevent drug abuse from starting or to intervene early to stop it when warning signs emerge.

• Preventing HIV/AIDS. Drug abuse and HIV/AIDS are linked epidemics. Growing recognition that HIV is transmitted not just through sharing of injection drug equipment but also through risky sexual behaviors stemming from drug-impaired judgment shows that educational material is needed to help young people learn the link between Addiction (drug use), high-risk behaviors, and HIV transmission.

• Prevention is cost-effective. Research has demonstrated that research-based drug abuse prevention programs are cost-effective. Each dollar invested in prevention achieves a savings of up to $7 in areas such as substance abuse treatment and criminal justice system costs, not to mention their wider impact on the trajectory of young lives and their families.
Abuse and Dependency