Alcohol and drug addiction is a complex but treatable disease. It is characterized by compulsive craving, seeking and use that persist even in the face of severe adverse consequences. For many people, alcohol and drug abuse becomes chronic, with relapses possible even after long periods of abstinence. In fact, relapse to alcohol and/or drug abuse occurs at rates similar to those for other well characterized, chronic medical illnesses such as diabetes, hypertension, and asthma. As a chronic, recurring illness, addiction may require repeated episodes of treatment before sustained abstinence
achieved. Through treatment tailored to individual needs, people with alcohol and/or drug addiction can recover and lead productive lives. The ultimate goals of substance addiction treatment is to enable an individual to achieve lasting abstinence, but the immediate goals are to reduce alcohol and/or drug abuse, improve ability to function, and minimize the medical and social complications of the substance abuse and addiction. Like people with diabetes or heart disease, people in treatment for substance addiction will also need to change their behavior to adopt a more healthful lifestyle.