NIDA Definition of Addiction

NIDA defines addiction as a chronic, relapsing brain disease that is characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use, despite harmful consequences. It is considered a brain disease because drugs change the brain; they change its structure and how it works.

These brain changes can be long-lasting and can lead to many harmful, often self-destructive, behaviors.

Having a clear understanding of the Definition of Addiction can help the entire process of confronting, treating and recovering from one’s abuse and/or addiction to drugs or alcohol. It also helps break down personal and social stereotypes associated with addiction that can interfere with recovery.


The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) provides a clear-cut description of the process and patterns of addiction as follows:


“Addiction is a complex but treatable condition. It is characterized by compulsive drug craving, seeking, and use that persist even in the face of severe adverse consequences. For most people, addiction becomes chronic, with relapses possible even after long periods of abstinence. As a chronic, recurring illness, addiction may require continued treatments to increase the intervals between relapses and diminish their intensity. Through treatment tailored to individual needs, people with drug addiction can recover and lead fulfilling lives.”

This is a powerful yet hopeful definition of addiction since it suggests not just “interim” care for the addict or alcoholic. The ultimate goal of addiction treatment is to enable an individual to achieve lasting abstinence, but the immediate goals are to reduce substance abuse and addiction. Like people with diabetes or heart disease, people in treatment for addiction will need to change their behavior to adopt a more healthful lifestyle.

Given the premise of the definition of addiction, acknowledging and treating all aspects of the disease (particularly if there is a dual diagnosis) is oftentimes paramount. In addition, incorporating therapeutic tools to help the addicted person change behaviors is equally vital to enable a full recovery.

At Inspire Malibu, our systematic approach to addiction involves a multi-modal approach including, but not limited to the following:

  • An accurate and thorough diagnosis by addiction professionals
  • Successful and safe withdrawal and detoxification when needed
  • Establishing a personal treatment plan tailored to the individual’s needs and specific circumstances
  • Providing meaningful secular support through both inpatient groups and outpatient services

Therapeutic regimens that address structural brain chemistry abnormalities can often be repaired and reversed. Inspire Malibu incorporates Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Motivational Enhancement techniques that facilitate the healing process, creating fundamental change for the addict/alcoholic.

Finally, Inspire Malibu focuses on preventing and managing relapse tendencies that are present in any chronic illness, such as diabetes, heart disease or other debilitating but treatable medical conditions.

Read and learn more about addiction and how our staff approaches your successful treatment plan.

Call us Toll-Free at 1-800-444-1838 to find out more about our southern California addiction treatment center.

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