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Addiction is a complex, often chronic brain disease for which there is currently no cure. There is always a risk of relapse, similar to other chronic conditions, such as high blood pressure or diabetes. Some may view this as discouraging and think, “If there is no cure, what is the point of getting treatment?” Though the thought of dealing with a life-long disease can be daunting, it is possible to live a healthy life with proper care.
Addiction can be successfully treated and managed with ongoing support and monitoring for the re-emergence of symptoms, just like most diseases. Consider for example the case of cancer. Although there may be no cure, with proper treatment, a person can go into remission and after a period of time be considered “disease free.” Treatment rids the body of measurable tumors, but that patient is still monitored to ensure the cancer does not come back. If evidence of the disease returns, treatment is resumed immediately without blame for or judgment of the patient. A similar approach and view should be taken with addiction. Even though an addicted person in recovery may no longer struggle with substances, he or she should continue to be monitored and receive support to reduce the risk of relapse. If relapse happens, the individual should access treatment quickly so the disease can be brought under control.
When receiving addiction treatment, it is important to have a recovery plan that incorporates skill building, social support, monitoring and a plan for what to do in case of relapse. A relapse can occur for many reasons. Certain environmental cues, such as walking by a bar, a distinct smell or a group of friends can trigger a person to relapse. Ongoing support and treatment can help an individual cope with these triggers and stabilize the disease.
Addiction should be treated like all chronic conditions and long-term support, monitoring and access to additional treatment should be easily accessible. Click here for more information about addiction treatment.
Margaret Raskob is a freelance blogger.