Does Rehab Work? Rehab Success Rates By The Numbers

Addiction rehab incorporates professional staff who have medical and mental health training to provide support in helping an individual overcome their substance or alcohol abuse disorder. Rehab facilities often provide the medications necessary to ease the pain associated with the detox process and behavioral therapies to help a person cope with their drug or alcohol use. Ultimately, the choice to recover is yours. It takes hard work and determination to come out of a rehab clinic abstinent and get back to a healthier life.

Drug Addiction is a Complex Illness

A lot of people mistakenly believe that if someone is addicted to drugs it is because they have no self-control or moral principles. That is just not the case. Drug addiction is a complex illness that is often associated with other difficulties in life such as unemployment, homelessness, relational conflict, problems with the law, and mental health issues. Upon repeated use of a drug, the chemical balance of a person’s brain is altered. This makes it extremely difficult to quit, even if someone really desires to. Even when a person is abstinent for a long period of time relapse can happen.

Many people start doing drugs for social reasons, such as at a party with friends. No one factor can determine why one person will become addicted to drugs while another person who used the same drugs did not. However, a combination of factors influences drug addiction such as a person’s genetic makeup, environments such as family or friends, economic status, peer pressure, and drug use at an early age.

When a person takes a drug it makes them feel good so their brain keeps telling them to take the drug so they can experience those good feelings. After a time, a person develops a tolerance meaning they need more of it to experience those same feelings. Eventually, a person’s brain and body will adapt to having the drug so much that they feel sick without the drug and need it to feel normal. This is known as drug dependence.

The compulsion to take drugs can significantly alter a person’s life. It can impact a person’s family, work, and finances, cause legal issues and harm various other social relationships. It can also cause serious harm to a person and put them at risk for a wide variety of health illnesses. For example, engaging in risky drug taking such as needle sharing can result in a person being exposed to human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), acquired immunodeficiency virus (AIDS), and Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C (HEP B and HEP C).

Due to drug addiction impacting so many aspects of a person’s life one type of treatment does not work for everyone. Rehab clinics work to individualize each person’s treatment in order to help them detox, recover, develop a drug-free lifestyle, and abstain from further drug use.

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Is it Abuse or Addiction?

Drug abuse typically starts in adolescence, with the use of alcohol or prescription opiates. The use of drugs or alcohol is usually for social reasons and does not cause a person to experience significant changes in their life. Substance use disorder is a maladaptive pattern of substance use that does not result in substance dependence. Upon repeated use, drug abuse can lead to addiction.

Drug addiction, also known as substance use disorder, is a chronic disease that is characterized by uncontrollable drug-seeking behaviors and use, despite the potentially life-threatening consequences. As time passes, a person will become dependent on the drug, needing more and more of the drug to get the same high and without it, they will feel sick. Attempts to quit using can cause a person to experience intense cravings and other withdrawal symptoms.

Drug addiction significantly affects a person’s life. Symptoms that a person has a drug addiction are using the drug multiple times a day, intense urges to use the drug, needing more of the substance to get the same effect, taking larger amounts of the drug over time, maintaining a supply of the drug, spending money on the drug even when it is too expensive, not meeting obligations with work, family, and friends, stealing, engaging in risky behaviors, failed attempts to stop using the drug, and experiencing withdrawal symptoms.

Other indications that a person is addicted to a drug are they are having problems at work or school such as frequently missing or performance drops. A person may have physical health issues such as a lack of motivation or weight loss or gain. Changes in behaviors are also frequently seen when a person has a drug addiction. For example, being secretive about their whereabouts or drastic changes in the way they behave with their friends or family. Also, they might have poor hygiene and money issues.

There is a lot more to addiction than just an uncontrollable desire for drugs or alcohol. Drug addiction becomes ingrained in a person creating deep emotional roots. Therefore, in order to get to the root of the substance use disorder problem, mental health therapy needs to be tied into the treatment process. Addiction is a chronic disorder characterized by relapse so abstinence requires long-term care.

What Should You Expect at Drug Rehab?

The first thing to know is that addiction does not happen overnight, it is a slow progression and so is treatment and recovery. How does rehab work? Upon arriving at a drug rehab a person will be assessed and evaluated to determine the best treatment plan to fit their needs. This assessment might include, the type of substance used, an evaluation of physical and mental health, and family history. People who are addicted to drugs often suffer from other health, occupational, legal, family, or social problems. Therefore, the assessment will determine the best programs to meet each person’s unique needs. The assessment will also determine whether an inpatient or outpatient clinical setting will best suit the recovering individual.

Next, a person will go through the medical detox process. What is medical detox? Medical detox helps people expel the drugs from their bodies in the comfort of a medical setting such as at a rehabilitation clinic or hospital. Medications are provided to help reduce a person’s withdrawal symptoms. These medications can include methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone. Additionally, a person going through detox will be placed in counseling, educated on their drug abuse, and encouraged to attend meetings such as Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous. In counseling, a person will go through various behavioral therapies to offer strategies to cope with drug cravings, teach ways to avoid and prevent relapse and help people deal with relapse if it happens.

Recovery is a lifelong process and a high-quality rehab clinic can aid in that journey. After treatment is over relapse prevention programs and sober living homes can help a person remain abstinent and ready to live their new drug-free life. The goal of treatment is not only to stop drug abuse but also to enable people to return to being productive members of society.

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Does Rehab Really Work?

Does rehab work? According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, people who attended therapeutic communities such as rehab clinics showed improvements in substance use disorder, criminal behavior, and mental health symptoms. This is especially true for people who were considered to have a severe addiction. Further, the length of time in treatment is a factor that determines a person’s success. Participating for at least 3 months resulted in better outcomes at 1 and the 5-year follow-up where participants showed improvements compared to the time period prior to seeking treatment.

A study published in Scientific World Journal also stated that people who attend rehab clinics experience better legal outcomes and less substance use disorder than those who do not. With that being said, the study mentioned that between 25 to 70 percent of people who attended rehab clinics relapsed 12 to 18 months after leaving treatment. Therefore, somewhere between 30 to 75 percent of people who attend rehab clinics remain abstinent. Another study mentioned in the article stated that 94 percent of people relapsed after attending a rehab clinic compared to only 77 percent of people who relapsed and were in aftercare. Relapse is a part of addiction and should not be seen as a failure. This statistic shows that aftercare programs are effective in helping to prevent relapse. People who are recovering from drug addiction should continue to receive aftercare after their initial recovery at a rehab clinic in order to have the best chances of experiencing life-long abstinence. If you find yourself asking more questions about addiction rehab when it comes to the cost of rehab, can you smoke cigarettes in rehab, what to bring to rehab, FMLA and rehab, or some of the most frequently asked questions about rehab we’re here to help!


Medical disclaimer:

Sunshine Behavioral Health strives to help people who are facing substance abuse, addiction, mental health disorders, or a combination of these conditions. It does this by providing compassionate care and evidence-based content that addresses health, treatment, and recovery.

Licensed medical professionals review material we publish on our site. The material is not a substitute for qualified medical diagnoses, treatment, or advice. It should not be used to replace the suggestions of your personal physician or other health care professionals.

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