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September 2018

Toward a Neuroscience of Long-term Recovery From Addiction

Author Affiliations
  • 1Center for Innovation to Implementation, VA Palo Alto Health Care System, Palo Alto, California
  • 2Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Stanford University, Stanford, California
  • 3Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute, Roanoke
JAMA Psychiatry. 2018;75(9):875-876. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2018.0956

Addiction to nicotine, alcohol, opioids, and other drugs is one of the leading public health and safety challenges of our time.1 In the United States, more than 25 million people smoke cigarettes, and more than 20 million people meet diagnostic criteria for other substance use disorders, which result in increased mortality and morbidity for themselves and others (eg, through alcohol-fueled violence, sharing of infected injection equipment, and other means).1 Yet all is not bleakness and despair. More than 25 million Americans have been in recovery from addiction for years; indeed, some remain in recovery for decades.1 Compared with other psychiatric disorders, long-term, stable recovery from even severe substance use disorders is common, and the degree of change individuals experience from the worst point of their illness to the fullness of their recovery can be enormous.

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