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What is Addiction?

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, addiction is "a chronic disease characterized by drug seeking and use that is compulsive, or difficult to control, despite harmful consequences."

Here are a few facts about addiction:

- No single factor can explain why some people become addicted to drugs and others do not. Addiction is shaped by a person's environment, genetics, and development.

- Addiction changes the structure and function of the brain. These changes can seriously impact a substance user's self-control and induce intense cravings and an urge to use over and over again.

-Addiction is treatable, but often requires a long-term commitment to medication, counseling, or both.

-Treatment is most effective when it addresses the whole person, not just the addiction.

-Substance misuse and addiction carry a number of risks, ranging from lost productivity to fatal overdose. Drug overdoses account for more than 70,000 deaths per year in the United States.

United States   


overdose deaths in 2017.
Source: US Ohio Scioto OD Deaths



overdose deaths in 2017.
Source: US Ohio Scioto OD Deaths

Scioto County   


overdose deaths in 2017.
Source: US Ohio Scioto OD Deaths

NSC Memorial Site - Celebrating Lost Loved Ones

Every life lost to addiction is a life worth remembering. "Celebrating Lost Loved Ones," a project by the National Safety Council, memorializes the sons and daughters, husbands and wives, friends and colleagues lost to the opioid epidemic. This map is a reminder that addiction does not discriminate based on age, race, gender, or geography.

Educate yourself about the signs of drug misuse today.

The Case for Medicine

Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT), the combined use of medication and counseling, is the current gold standard for treatment of opioid use disorder (OUD). While methadone has been used in outpatient settings for decades, other medications, including buprenorphine and naltrexone, are commonly prescribed options with proven safety and effectiveness. Suboxone and Vivitrol are two recognized brands.Patients and providers surveyed by SAMHSA about the effectiveness of burprenorphine "reported an average of an 80% reduction in illicit opioid use, along with significant increases in employment, and other indices of recovery." The World Health Organization recognizes both buprenorphine and methadone as essential medicines.

Click here to read recovery success story. Testimonial courtesy of SAMHSA/ATTCN


Every person's recovery process looks different, so there is no perfect "one size fits all" approach to substance use treatment. If you or a loved one is considering programs, it is important to know the right questions to ask.

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The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) recommends keeping the following five questions in mind as you search for a provider:
  1. Does the program use treatments backed by scientific evidence?
    Evidence-based treatments are those that have demonstrated success. According to NIDA, treatment should include counseling, medication, or ideally both. Examples of effective counseling techniques include cognitive behavioral therapy and motivational interviewing. FDA-approved medications like buprenorphine are available for individuals managing opioid use disorder, while disulfiram and other medications are available for those recovering from alcohol dependence. There is currently no approved medication for methamphetamine addiction.
  2. Does the program tailor treatment to the needs of each patient?
    The ideal program will be able to tailor services to each client's unique background, culture, and needs. Additional services to inquire about may include mental health treatment (for those with co-occurring disorders), family therapy, and social services.
  3. Does the program adapt treatment as the patient’s needs change?
    Relapse happens to even the most motivated individuals. Treatment programs should evaluate the client's progress on a regular basis and adjust the treatment plan as their needs change.
  4. Is the duration of treatment sufficient?
    According to NIDA, "most addicted people need at least three months in treatment to really reduce or stop their drug use and that longer treatment times result in better outcomes."
  5. How do 12-step or similar recovery programs fit into drug addiction treatment? 12-step programs like Narcotics Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous provide a source of social support that many individuals in recovery find helpful. Treatment programs may recommend clients attend self-help groups in addition to their ongoing treatment. For many, NA and AA may not be a great fit. Other support group models include Medication-Assisted Recovery Anonymous (MARA) and Harm Reduction Works-HRW.

Content adapted from NIH Publication No. 13-7764