This study adds to existing literature that indicates a large number of people recover from drug and alcohol problems without treatment. This brings into question the National Institute on Drug Abuse claim that drug addition is a “chronic, relapsing brain disease.” In particular, this study finds that:
- Nearly half of those covered by the study recovered without formal treatment.
- The most commonly reported resources used to resolve alcohol or drug addiction problems, when help was used, were mutual aid groups (45%). Medication support was relatively low though it has seen an increasing in recent years. We might theorize the increase is associated with the increase in marketing of Medication-Assisted Treatment.
Given the large cohort that recovers without formal treatment, policymakers would be well-advised to ensure research dollars are directed towards recovery-oriented research. Isolating the factors involved in bringing about recovery in nearly half of those with a drug problem could lead to cost-effective ways to address the current crisis.