There is an increasing interest in finding ways to combat and treat the opioid crisis successfully. One popular treatment option is addiction rehab. Many current rehabilitation programs combine intensive inpatient treatment and long-term outpatient support as part of a comprehensive program designed to support the patient from detox through long-term recovery. But how successful are these programs in terms of creating long-lasting change and preventing the tragic consequences of addiction?
Interpreting the Statistics
Current statistics show that of all clients admitted to inpatient treatment centers, about 3/4 complete the program and 25% are relapse-free and sober five years into recovery. Some research suggests that for particular populations, rehab can be very successful, with one study showing a 71% abstinence rate among postpartum women with substance abuse disorders who underwent at least six months of rehab.
Too often, people interpret statistics like this as indicating that rehab is not successful. However, it is important to remember that alcohol and drug addiction is a disease. Like with most diseases, there is no treatment that is 100% successful.
Currently, statistics about the rehab success rate are similar to the success rates of treatment for other severe chronic medical conditions, such as diabetes, asthma, or hypertension. They also only take into account those that do achieve full sobriety but experience one or more relapses in the process.
The statistics also include rehab programs that are less than 30 days in with statistics on longer rehab programs. Short-term inpatient rehab is far less likely to be successful than is 60–90-day programs, especially when treating those with complex or long-term addictions, or those with dual diagnoses. In these cases, longer programs or undergoing several rounds of treatment will likely increase the chances of long-term sobriety. In fact, the National Institute on Drug Abuse recommends that usually, inpatient rehab should last at least 90 days, and longer if necessary.
Relapsing: Failure or Normal?
Unfortunately, even with the best available treatment, some in recovery for drug or alcohol addiction relapse. When this happens, treatment is often mistakingly deemed a failure. However, assuming treatment has failed can’t be further from the truth.
Addiction is now accepted in the medical field as being a disease. Over the course of most chronic diseases, a disease can be remission and then relapse. When relapse does happen, it means that the treatment may need to be adjusted. These adjustments can help put the disease back into remission. This is often in a much shorter time than the original treatment took.
In looking at the percentage of patients who relapse over the course of their disease, 30–50% of those with Type 1 diabetes, 40–60% of those with drug addiction, 50–70% of those with hypertension, and 50–70% of those with asthma experience at least one relapse during their recovery. Still, nobody would argue that the current best practices for treating Type 1 diabetes, hypertension, and asthma aren’t effective. On the contrary, temporary relapses in those conditions are seen as normal and expected, often requiring a simple change in medication or a temporary increased treatment frequency until the symptoms are under control again. The course of addiction and the rehab success rate should be viewed in the same way.
What Makes A Drug Rehab Program Effective?
When looking for a drug rehab program, the rehab success rate doesn’t give you the whole story. These numbers often only count a program as being successful if clients do not relapse during their recovery. However, there are several other important markers of success that are often missed by these numbers:
Clients that have dramatically reduced their alcohol or drug use, even if they are not yet at 100% recovery
An overall sense of physical, mental, and spiritual wellbeing during recovery.
Reduced or eliminated involvement in criminal activity
Improved grades, school or work attendance, or ability to do job-related tasks.
Restored relationships with family, friends, and coworkers
Improved ability to parent their children
Increased ability to make healthy and safe choices choices
Family members of the client feel safer around the client
A client can engage in healthy recreational activities
Above all, whether or not a drug rehab program will be effective for you depends on your own individual circumstances. For treatment to be successful, you have to want to live a clean and sober life. If you are not ready to change, it will be hard for treatment to be successful. In addition, it is important to choose a treatment facility that matches your needs and preferences.
Treatment that uses a modality that works best for you, is far more likely to be effective for you than one that you don’t connect with or engaged in. Your rehab success rate will increase if the facility can offer a treatment plan that is customized to your needs with a professional staff. A rehab program that is able to meet these needs for you means that when you’re ready to reach out for help, your chances of a successful recovery are promising!