It might surprise you, but addiction is classified as a mental illness, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. As defined by the National Institute of Drug Abuse, addiction is “a chronic disease characterized by drug seeking and use that is compulsive, or difficult to control, despite harmful consequences.” Addiction can have a profound effect on the person who lives with the condition, as well as everyone around them.
Addiction affects 20.2 million adults in the US, and almost half of people (7.9 million) who live with addiction also suffer from other mental illnesses. Those who struggle with addiction may be addicted to any number of substances, including alcohol, nicotine, cannabis, hallucinogens, and prescription drugs. Addiction can be difficult to treat because the addictive substances change brain chemistry, making it difficult for users to quit.
However, it is important to know that there are many effective and compassionate treatments that allow people who are addicted to drugs or alcohol to live healthy and fulfilling lives. The most effective treatment usually combines more than one modality and may include hospitalization, outpatient programs, self-help groups, and individual therapy.