People with an addiction do not have control over what they are doing, taking or using. Their addiction may reach a point at which it is harmful.

Addictions do not only include physical things we consume, such as drugs or alcohol, but may include virtually anything, such abstract things as gambling to seemingly harmless products, such as chocolate – in other words, addiction may refer to a substance dependence (e.g. drug addiction) or behavioural addiction (e.g. gambling addiction).

Therapies help patients:

• modify their attitudes and behaviours related to drug use
• increase healthy life skills
• persist with other forms of treatment, such as medication
• cognitive-behavioural therapy, which helps patients recognize,
avoid, and cope with the situations in which they are most likely
to use drugs
• multidimensional family therapy—developed for adolescents with
drug abuse problems as well as their families—which addresses a
range of influences on their drug abuse patterns and is designed
to improve overall family functioning
• motivational interviewing, which makes the most of people’s
readiness to change their behaviour and enter treatment
• motivational incentives (contingency management), which uses
positive reinforcement to encourage abstinence from drugs

Treatment is sometimes intensive at first, where patients attend
multiple outpatient sessions each week. After completing
intensive treatment, patients transition to regular outpatient
treatment, which meets less often and for fewer hours per week to
help sustain their recovery.