Can we cure drug addicts
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Can we cure drug addicts?. No cure is available, but addiction can be treated effectively. Effective Treatment for Addicts. Treatment is effective when the addict follows the prescribed treatment regimen (usually involving but not limited to) : abstaining from drug use

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Can we cure drug addicts?

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Can we cure drug addicts?

No cure is available, but addiction can be treated effectively.

Effective Treatment for Addicts

  • Treatment is effective when the addict follows the prescribed treatment regimen (usually involving but not limited to):

    • abstaining from drug use

    • improving his/her personal health and social function

    • attending behavioral therapy

    • taking medication

Pharmacological treatment of drug addiction

  • Heroin addiction can be treated with methadone and naltrexone

  • These drugs prevent cravings and withdrawal symptoms

How does methadone work?

  • Methadone is an opiate receptor agonist

  • It binds to the same receptor as heroin, but does not cause activation of the neuron (thus no high is achieved)

  • Heroin cannot produce a high when methadone is in the blood, occupying opiate receptors


  • Naltrexone is an opioid receptor antagonist

  • Instead of competing with heroin, naltrexone prevents heroin from binding to the receptor, thus preventing heroin from eliciting it’s euphoric effects

Medications to treat addiction- a difficult task

  • The development of medications to treat addiction has been difficult because the brain is such a complex organ.

  • When scientists better understand how drugs affect the chemistry of the brain they will then be able to develop medicine to treat drug addiction.

Is pharmacological therapy enough to treat drug addiction?

  • No, pharmacological therapy alone is not sufficient to treat addiction

  • Behavioral treatment in combination with pharmacological treatment is the most effective way to treat drug addiction

Full recovery is a challenge but it is possible …

In Treating Addiction…

We Need to Keep Our Eye on

the Real Targets!


Functionality in

Family, Work

and Community

Understanding Drug Abuse and Addiction.

Discuss the answers to the following questions for tomorrow’s in class essay questions (150 words)

  • What is drug addiction?

  • Why do some people become addicted while other do not? (hint: review card game)

  • Is drug addiction a disease? Justify your answer by referring to specific information from your in-class notes and readings.

  • What are some common misconceptions about the treatment for drug addiction? What ‘truths’ regarding treatment should all addicts be aware of (that might convince them to get clean)?


  • All answers must be supported with facts from this unit.

  • Outline the information to be included in your response ahead of time


  • Each answer will be marked out of 10 according to the following criteria:

    • Accuracy (including details from class notes, readings and personal research).

    • Well structured/ organized, using appropriate language.

    • Clearly written (no grammatical or spelling errors) and easy to understand.

Is treating a disease an easy task?

  • Adhering to a treatment plan is difficult, not only for drug addicts, but for anyone with a chronic disease.

  • Less than 50 percent of diabetics follow their routine medication plan, and only 30 percent follow their dietary guidelines.

  • Problems adhering to a treatment plan lead to about 50 percent of diabetics needing to be treated again within one year of diagnosis

Is treating a disease an easy task?

  • Treatment for drug addiction is statistically more successful than treatment for chronic diseases, however, drug addicts commonly have relapses during treatment and recovery and begin using drugs again.

  • The difficulties in following a treatment plan and coping with the stresses of a chronic disease illustrate how difficult changing human behavior is

Extended Abstinence is Predictive of Sustained Recovery

After 5 years – if you are sober, you probably will stay that way.

Dennis et al, Eval Rev, 2007

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