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What is Addiction & How to Heal It

Despite advances in medicine and years of firsthand experience, many people struggle to understand exactly what addiction is and how to heal it. (In fact, people in addiction recovery often use a saying that calls the disease “cunning” and “baffling.”) Before you can solve a problem, though, you need to truly understand the nature of what you’re dealing with. Read on for a brief primer on what addiction is and how to heal it. 

What is Addiction? 

Part of what makes addiction so difficult to understand is the fact that it is a chronic brain disease. It operates deep beneath the surface of the human body, and involves multiple body systems. Like other chronic diseases such as cancer, diabetes, or high blood pressure, it also can have many different causes that work together to trigger an outbreak of the disease. Addiction is caused by a mix of genetics, lifestyle, physiology, and more. It can be just as hard to pinpoint what triggers an addiction as it is to pinpoint when it begins or what it really entails. 

Paradoxically, one of the symptoms of the disease is warped thinking — which doesn’t make it any easier to recognize or understand. People struggling with addiction symptoms often suffer from deep denial that makes it difficult to admit that they have a problem. At the same time, it causes them to say and do things that they normally wouldn’t. Addiction bends the truth in so many different ways, making it hard for both the person suffering and their loved ones to understand it.

However, substance use disorder is a medically recognized brain disease and can be medically treated with success.

How to Cure Addiction 

It’s important to understand that you can’t “cure” addiction once and for all. Even if someone manages to get clean and sober for quite some time, it can still rear its head later on down the road. That’s not because their treatment was inadequate, or their willpower has waned. Again, addiction is like cancer, diabetes, or high blood pressure: You can manage the symptoms and have a normal life, but you must always remember that you have a disease — and act accordingly. 

What Happens in Rehab?

With that in mind, modern addiction treatment is not just focused on helping someone get clean and sober. Rather, it heals the disease from the ground up by focusing on the trauma or mental health difficulties that sparked the addiction in the first place. Trauma care, one-on-one counseling, group therapy, and other therapeutic modalities can be very powerful when combined with relapse prevention tips, life skills training, and education about the nature of addiction. 

What Happens After Rehab?

Staying on the path of recovery requires continued vigilance and healthy habits after treatment. For that reason, addiction treatment centers like Holland Pathways work with clients from the start to plan for life after rehab. Often called “aftercare planning,” this process helps clients identify the ways in which their lifestyle must change to retain their recovery. Like a diabetic who needs to change their eating habits and take medication, people in recovery must also adopt new habits and perspectives to succeed for the long-term. Aftercare planning gives them support in that process.

Get Help for Addiction 

Don’t wait for a rock bottom moment that’s irreversible. Start the path to recovery for your loved one and your family by calling our caring admissions team or sending us a chat. They’ll listen to your story and help you decide on next steps that will bring you closer to a lifetime of freedom in recovery.