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Addiction Recovery Solutions: Addicted Once, Addicted Forever?

Abstract: It is possible to break an addiction. And occasional relapses does not mean that the addiction cannot eventually be broken completely.

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Addiction Recovery Solutions: Addicted Once, Addicted Forever?

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Question(s): 
Written by: Wendy Moelker, Psychologist in charge, tutor, Emergis center for mental health care, Goes, the Netherlands.
First version: 22 Jul 2008.
Latest revision: 24 Jul 2008.

Will addicts stay addicted for the rest of their lives? Are there any really successful addiction recovery solutions?

Answer:

An addiction can vary in seriousness. You don't get addicted from one day to another; getting addicted is a process that can take many years. Sometimes people take steps at a time; they decrease or discontinue. Others will go on until the end.

In the case of less severe forms of addictions, the addiction is a temporary disorder, and treatment can help a lot. In the case of more severe addictions, the disorder has a more lasting character. In these cases, the goal of the treatment is to discontinue use. More severe addictions often mean that there is a long history of use and many physical and social problems. Addiction to alcohol, for example, often shows that the brains are damaged in such a way that the addicts can no longer resist the impulse to drink.

However, "addicted once, addicted forever" never means that an addiction can't be treated or overcome. The problem is that addicted people often draw that conclusion. They say: "I can't be helped", "it is within me" or "I can't help it". Also, the family and other people around the addict often draw this conclusion. This usually happens when the addicted person starts to use, drink or gamble again. This creates a feeling of dejection, which has a negative effect. It can be the reason to keep on drinking and not seek help.

It is very important to see how the addict and the people around him react to the relapse. Instead of being dejected, it is better to find out what you can learn from a relapse. You can determine under what circumstances the relapse happened and how you can react better to alcohol, drugs or gambling next time when you are in the same circumstances. In other words, you can also get stronger from a relapse. An addict must realize that getting addicted is a process, as well as getting off of it. Breaking the habit means that there is also the possibility of a remission.

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