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Effective Treatment


In 2004, approximately 22.2 million individuals, age 12 and older, needed specialty treatment for alcohol or illicit drug problems.
-- National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), 2004

Over the past 30 years advances in science have revolutionized our understanding of addiction. Alcohol dependence was once thought to be a disease of middle age, but we now know addiction as a complex but treatable brain disease. Today there is a broad range of behavioral therapies and medications available to effectively improve the chance for recovery.

Thirty Years Ago

  • Little was known about the genetic basis or nervous system changes of alcohol dependency.
  • Disulfiram (Antabuse®) was the only medication approved for treating alcohol dependence.
  • Treatments included various behavioral approaches, mostly group counseling and referral to Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). These treatments were only offered in intensive programs provided at specific locations separated from mainstream health care.
  • Relatively few people with alcohol dependence ever received treatment.


  • Researchers have identified genes which increase an individual’s risk in becoming alcohol dependent, as well as those protecting against alcohol problems.
  • The neural basis of alcohol dependence has been clarified. Addiction is influenced by neurotransmitter systems, neuromodulators, hormones and intracellular networks.
  • These are new areas for which medications are being developed.
  • There are many treatment options which can be tailored to a patient’s specific needs.

National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)The Science of Drug Abuse and Addiction – National Institutes of Health agency whose mission is to lead the nation in bringing the power of science to bear on drug abuse and addiction.

Alcoholism: The Science Made Easy (ASME) - Library of cutting-edge research articles taken from the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research and rewritten in lay terms.



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