Sometimes people quit their drug use for a while, but start using again no matter how hard they try not to. This return to drug use is called a relapse. People recovering from addiction often have one or more relapses along the way. For some drugs, a relapse can be very dangerous—even deadly. If a person uses as much as they used to before quitting, they can easily overdose. An overdose occurs when the person uses too much of a drug and has a toxic reaction that results in serious, harmful symptoms or death. Someone can overdose on purpose or accidentally.

Drug addiction is a chronic (long-lasting) disease. That means it stays with the person for a long time, sometimes for life. It doesn't go away like a cold. A person with an addiction can get treatment and stop using drugs. But if they started using again, they would:

  • feel a strong need to keep taking the drug
  • want to take more and more of it
  • need to get back into treatment as soon as possible

They could be just as hooked on the drug and out of control as before.

Recovery from addiction means you have to stop using drugs AND learn new ways of thinking, feeling, and dealing with problems. Drug addiction makes it hard to function in daily life. It affects how you act with your family, at work, and in the community. It is hard to change so many things at once and not fall back into old habits.

Recovery from addiction is a lifelong effort.