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New Strategies for the New Year: Resolving to break an addiction? Help from Harvard Medical School
Date:12/18/2008

Addiction affects people from all walks of life—presidents struggling to stop smoking, doctors dependent on pain pills, elderly widows who gamble too much, and teenagers abusing stimulant drugs.

(Vocus) December 18, 2008 -- Addiction affects people from all walks of life—presidents struggling to stop smoking, doctors dependent on pain pills, elderly widows who gamble too much, and teenagers abusing stimulant drugs. Nearly a quarter of Americans have a nicotine addiction at one point or another, and more than one in seven grapple with a drug or alcohol use disorder. Overcoming Addiction: Paths toward recovery, a new report from Harvard Medical School, offers guidance for breaking unwanted addictive habits and starting fresh for 2009.

For many years, experts believed that addiction was possible only to powerful drugs or alcohol. More recently, they have recognized that excessive behaviors such as gambling, shopping, and sex also can lead to addiction. What's common to all addictions is the brain's response to pleasurable experiences, no matter what their source. Genetic research has uncovered that some people are predisposed to addiction in general, but not to a specific type. In other words, addiction is a disorder that manifests itself in many different ways.

A number of effective treatments can help people recover from addiction, including self-help strategies, psychotherapy, medications, rehabilitation programs, or a combination of these elements. All are described in this report, along with advice about coping with a loved one’s addiction.

Action steps for change
If you’re trying to overcome an addiction at the dawn of the new year, the following steps offer the greatest chance of success.
1.   Seek help. Although people can recover from addiction on their own, others need advice and support from professionals, p
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