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Drug and Alcohol Rehab Success Rates: Does Rehab Work?

While reviewing drug and alcohol rehab success rates, you might find yourself asking a common question: does rehab work? according to research studies, addiction treatment and rehabilitation can help you overcome your substance abuse. As long as you are matched with the correct treatment program, you can manage to deal with your addiction and turn your life around.

About Addiction

Substance abuse and addiction are serious conditions. According to Medscape, for instance, drug overdose is now the leading cause of accidental death in the United States. Every year, for instance, it kills an average of 44,000 Americans.

Luckily, it is possible to avoid this outcome by seeking help from a professional addiction treatment and rehabilitation program. The most successful of these programs often conduct scientific research on patient outcomes. By so doing, they are able to gain insight into the treatment methods that work most effectively. In the process, also, they manage to offer effective services and care to individuals struggling with substance abuse.

Some of the indicators of improved quality of life after rehab include healthier personal and family relationships, an enhancement in the ability to manage the various challenges and problems of daily life, and improved mental health.

Success Rates in Addiction Treatment

Even so, it is essential that you find the right addiction treatment and rehabilitation program to be able to overcome your substance use disorder and any other co-occurring mental health disorders that you might also be struggling with.

To do this, there are some questions that you need to ask treatment providers. Through the answers you receive, you may be able to discern the average rates of success that these providers have to offer.

If you are looking for an addiction treatment program, you might not always be able to get hard data on the success rates of rehab. In general, this field tends to lack data that is consistently reported and scientifically valid. As such, it might be difficult for you to effectively measure the impact of drug and alcohol rehab programs.

Since there is no such data available in the public domain, it is recommended that you ask a couple of questions to all the drug rehabs that you are considering attending. By so doing, you will be able to get better insight into how these centers gather, report, and measure their success rates.

Measuring Addiction Treatment Outcomes

Drug addiction and alcoholism are like any other chronic disease - like hypertension and diabetes - in the sense that they often come with cycles of remission and relapse after treatment.

However, the effectiveness and impact of addiction treatment cannot be easily measured in the same way that you would be able to measure medical care provided for chronic illnesses - where there are physiological indicators available. These indicators include lipid levels, blood sugar readings, and other medical assessments that can clearly show positive change, improvement, and healing.

With drug addiction and alcoholism, there are no such lab tests and physiological indicators that can effectively demonstrate that you are healing or that your condition has started subsiding.

Instead, outcomes from addiction treatment and rehabilitation are typically assessed using a wide variety of behavioral, quality of life, and clinical domains. Additionally, most drug rehabs will often measure and report results from treatment based on follow-up data collected from patients relating to the following categories of change:

  • Aftercare compliance
  • Length or duration of sobriety
  • Quality of life

When you enter an addiction treatment and rehabilitation program, you will be given the opportunity to allow the center to get in touch with you after the time you spend in the facility.

While trying to determine the success rates of a drug and alcohol rehab program, to this end, it is important to consider the following variables and factors:

  • Compliance with the aftercare recommendations made by the drug rehab program, such as participating regularly in 12 step support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous
  • The level of functioning in your job, career, or school
  • Mental health
  • Number of days you have been continually abstinent from drugs and alcohol
  • Physical health
  • Quality of personal and professional relationships
  • The quality of your social life
  • Use of any other additional healthcare services

Credibility of Addiction Treatment Outcomes

The rates, percentages, and numbers reported by an addiction treatment program might appear impressive. However, it is essential that you remain wary of all claims provided by these programs.

Instead, you should consider asking the program about the scientific data behind any statements that they make promoting the success rates of their treatments. For instance, if a drug rehab claims that they have a success rate of 90 percent, you need to ask them:

  • How are you defining success?
  • How did you collect the data?
  • How long did you collect the data?
  • How many patients did you survey and what was the average rate of response?
  • What variables have you measured?
  • Which patient populations did you measure?

The Effectiveness of Alcohol and Drug Addiction Treatment

Apart from helping you stop your drug and alcohol abuse, the primary goal of an addiction treatment and rehabilitation program would be to help you become more productive and function better in your community, workplace, school, and family life.

Research studies tracking individuals attending addiction treatment programs over an extended period show that most people who enroll in such programs and remain in them end up overcoming their substance abuse and addiction.

Most of them also decrease their risk of engaging in criminal activity while improving their psychological, social, occupational, and physical functioning. For instance, methadone treatment programs have been shown to improve the ability of patients to participate in behavioral therapy programs as well as decrease both their criminal behavior and drug and alcohol use.

However, individual outcomes from treatment will largely depend on the type of addiction treatment and rehabilitation program you attend, the nature and extent of your problems, the appropriateness and effectiveness of the rehab services - and other related services - provided, and the quality of interaction between you and the professionals providing rehab services.

Even so, it is essential to always keep in mind that the rates of relapse for drug and alcohol addiction are similar to those reported from other chronic illnesses like asthma, hypertension, and diabetes.

However, addiction is also like these chronic illnesses in the sense that it can be managed and treated successfully. Through a drug and alcohol rehab program, you can be empowered to counteract the powerful and disruptive effects of substance abuse and addiction on behavior and the brain. Such a program would also enable you regain control over your life.

As mentioned above, however, you also need to always keep in mind the fact that addiction has a chronic nature. This effectively means that you can relapse - and a relapse is not only possible, it is also likely.

The recurrence rates of the symptoms of addiction are also similar to other chronic medical illnesses like asthma, hypertension, and diabetes. This is because all these conditions have both behavioral and physiological components.

The unfortunate thing is that when relapse happens, you might feel that your treatment failed. However, you need to remember that this is not always the case. The successful treatment of substance abuse and addiction will typically require continuous and regular evaluation and modification of your treatment program. This is similar to the approach that would be taken if you were getting treated for any other chronic illness.

For instance, when you are receiving active treatment for hypertension, your symptoms might decrease. When this happens, treatment would be deemed to have succeeded even though your symptoms might still recur if your treatment is discontinued.

If you are addicted to drugs and alcohol, you might still relapse and start abusing this intoxicating substances even after having been through a professional addiction treatment and rehabilitation program. However, this is not to mean that the treatment failed. Rather, it signifies the fact that the treatment has to be adjusted or reinstated or that you have to go for alternate treatment.

Standard Success Rates for Drug Rehab

In the same way there is not standard definition of addiction treatment and rehabilitation, there is no standard way to define the success of a treatment center. Even so, many of these programs will tend to base their rates of success on certain metrics - most of which are unreliable. Examples of these metrics include but are not limited to:

  • Client interviews
  • Completion of the treatment program
  • Internal studies
  • Rates of sobriety immediately following treatment

A more effective approach would be to judge the actual quality of treatment and care that is provided by a facility - both during the formal treatment period as well as after this period.

According to the CDC - the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - currently estimates that drugs are the cause of 114 deaths on a daily basis in the United States. It also reported that 6748 people check into emergency departments in hospitals across the country for drug and alcohol abuse.

Although substance abuse and addiction are major problems for the country, another study conducted by SAMHSA - the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration - reported that about 90 percent of the people who are in need of addiction treatment and rehabilitation services do not receive them.

With such desperate needs for immediate solutions, it is important to consider the results that you can expect from a treatment program. You should also think about where drug rehab works and the statistics and success rates that you can expect from addiction treatment programs and facilities.

Understanding Drug and Alcohol Rehab

However, it is not always easy to answer the "does rehab work?" question. According to TIME Magazine, it is impossible to define rehab. To this end, there are no standardized metrics of success for most addiction rehab centers.

Even so, some facilities will simply define success according to the number of their patients who have completed the treatment program. Others will consider the sobriety of their patients a couple of months after treatment.

According to the Washington Post, addiction treatment does not work for most people. This is because some programs fail their patients because when these clients relapse, these centers often blame the patients. By so doing, they effectively absolve themselves of any weakness or culpability.

Since so many addiction treatment and rehabilitation programs do not follow up with their clients, the success rates that they cite will only apply to the people who have been able to stay at the facility over the entire duration of their recommended treatment. even the centers that boast modest success rates might only be drawing their figures from the sobriety rates reported immediately after patients have completed treatment - and not their rates of sobriety months or years following rehab.

According to the Scientific American, many of the people who have been through a professional addiction treatment and rehabilitation program still struggle with relapse months or years after such treatment.

Success Rates from Addiction Treatment

Research studies have shown that the greatest benefit of addiction treatment and rehabilitation will occur during the early stages of treatment. This is often the case for programs that offer treatment that deals with the life situation, addiction, and specific nature of the individual.

But what is recovery in the context of addiction treatment? some specialists consider that sobriety and abstinence is not the best indicator of a successful recovery. For instance, after treatment, you might start abusing drugs for a day a couple of months after completing rehab before going off drugs again for several months.

Receiving Effective Treatment

According to the New York Times, federal and state governments spend more than $15 billion - and insurance companies contribute some $5 billion more - on the provision of substance abuse and addiction treatment and rehabilitation services. even so, it is not always easy to measure the efficacy of these services.

This is because few addiction treatment and rehabilitation programs provide data stating their effectiveness and success rates. Further, other programs do not allow external researchers to conduct research studies or analyze the completion rats among their patients. They also do not allow these researchers to check the relapse rates and follow-up statistics that they record.

Since most of these programs are privately owned, there are no standardized guidelines for evaluating the success of any addiction treatment programs. Further, every facility tends to have its own philosophy.

For this reason, it is important that you choose the right treatment programs for you. A good way to do this would be to look for a program that has at least one measure of accreditation and licensing.

CARF - the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities - is a not for profit organization that is charged with the responsibility of offering accreditation of behavioral health and rehabilitation centers.

To receive CARF accreditation, a facility must meet many different requirements. It must also demonstrate that it uses high quality programs and that its treatment modalities are tailored to meet the individual needs and requirements of each patient.

Addiction comes with an insidious nature. This effectively means that it can be difficult to define success vis---vis treatment and rehab programs. As a patient, you might be tempted to simply go through all the motions of treatment. this means that you will say and do anything that will allow you to graduate successfully from the program. This is because your primary need would be to go back to your normal life so that you can continue abusing drugs and drinking alcohol.

After completing treatment, the rehab program might consider that you are a success story. As a direct result, it is important that you check into a program that uses a different definition and evaluation of success instead of choosing one that simply bases its success rates on the completion of the program.

The other problem to consider is that some small treatment facilities - particularly those located in rural areas - do not have the staff or resources to use research and evidence based treatments such as cognitive behavioral therapy and motivational interviewing.

These facilities often eschew these therapies either entirely or have personnel that are not sufficiently trained to provide these recovery techniques. Some also lack doctors and other medical personnel on staff. As a result, they might not always be able to help you overcome your substance abuse and addiction.

If you are looking to deal with your addiction, it is recommended that you look for addiction treatment and rehabilitation programs that use evidence based therapies as well as those that have professionals and licensed experts in their individual fields of expertise.

This means that you should ask the rehab center about the qualifications and licenses of its members of staff. You should also find out about the various therapies that they use - as well as if these therapies are based on scientific research - before you commit to any particular facility.

Evidence Based Treatment Programs

Some of the counseling services that are provided by addiction treatment and rehabilitation programs are offered by veteran counselors, some of whom might have struggled with substance abuse and addiction in the past and managed to overcome these issues.

These counselors often believe in their methodologies. Some state governments - such as Oregon - also believe in these methods to such an extent that they allow veteran counselors to offer their services.

According to The Times, it might be problematic to marry evidence-based treatments with practice-based evidence therapy. The right solution would be to use the experience of these veteran counselors who have been working over the long term with the scientific backing of programs that are more established and accepted.

In Delaware, for instance, the Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health has now established incentives for addiction treatment and rehabilitation programs that use benchmarks like follow-up care for patients, the conducting of urine tests, and the monitoring of the functioning of patients at work, school, and home after they complete treatment.

Rehab programs in the state were operating at a capacity of 50 percent in 2001 while 53 percent of their clients attending treatment meetings on a regular basis. By 2006, these programs were running at a capacity of 95 percent while 70 percent of their clients were attending sessions on a regular basis.

Determining Successful Rehab

With so many metrics to consider, it might be difficult to evaluate the success rates of drug and alcohol rehab programs. While looking for answers to the "does rehab work?" question, it is important to judge treatment centers on the type and quality of treatment and care that they provide - both during and after the formal treatment program. This is a much better metric than simply looking at the number of patients who enroll in the program and end up completing it.

The word of former patients - in the form of personal testimonials and recommendations - can also inform you more about the quality of treatment offered at a particular facility than the reported success rates that these centers often publish on their websites and social media pages.

To this end, you might also want to consider attending a facility that offers aftercare or continuing care for its patients. This is because such a center would most likely have your best interests at heart. The aftercare services provided might include:

  • Encouraging you to attend treatment and rehab programs for a longer time period
  • Facilitating support for your aftercare, including extending the formal treatment that it offers
  • Helping you so that you are able to start cultivating roots in long-term or ongoing support within the community
  • Offering different dynamics of treatment, such as family therapy, group therapy, couples counseling, and individual therapy as part of your recovery sessions
  • Providing resources and education to the members of your family

One of the effective ways to best determine the success rates of a potential program would also be to ask as many questions as you can manage. If the center is unable to answer your questions satisfactorily, you can be sure that it might not be the best program to attend. This is particularly if you ask questions about the number of people who begin and complete the program and how many of them participate in a long term aftercare program.

Success Rates in Drug and Alcohol Rehab

While considering the rates of success from an addiction treatment and rehabilitation program, it is important to tell the difference between the various rehab methods available today.

An inpatient treatment program is one that offers a rigorous counseling and medication schedule in a residential facility where you have to stay for a pre-defined period of time - which could be anywhere between 30 days and 90 days, or longer.

An outpatient drug rehab, on the other hand, provides similar treatment programs for a period of time. The only difference is that you do not have to live in such a facility to get help for your addiction. Instead, you can check into the facility a few times every week - for a couple of hours each time - to work through your substance abuse issues.

Research studies have released the following statistics which relate to the rates of success of drug and alcohol rehab programs:

  • Medical detox, on average, costs about $2,200 and around 33% of the people enrolled in these programs are able to complete treatment; around 17% of these people are sober five years following their treatment
  • On average, inpatient treatment costs about $3,200 and around 73% of the people enrolled in these programs are able to complete treatment; around 21% of these people are sober five years following their treatment
  • On average, outpatient treatment costs about $1,200 and around 43% of the people enrolled in these programs are able to complete treatment; around 18% of these people are sober five years following their treatment
  • On average, residential treatment costs about $3,100 and around 51% of the people enrolled in these programs are able to complete treatment; around 21% of these people are sober five years following their treatment

From these numbers, you might wonder if drug rehab works actually. This is because you might have noticed that not even 25 percent of the people who are enrolled in such programs are sober 5 years after their treatment.

Even so, it is important to consider the factors that go into the making of a drug rehab and its success rates. While thinking about this question, you might assume that addiction treatment and rehabilitation will be considered successful if it enables you to achieve sobriety and long term recovery. However, this is not always the case.

According to the ONDCP - the Office of National Drug Control Policy - some factors will determine the efficacy of a recovery and treatment program. These factors include but are not limited to:

  • Better legal status, marked by fewer convictions and arrests and a reduction in the number of crimes committed as a result of drugs and alcohol
  • Better mental health, arising from an improvement in personality traits and mood, higher levels of cognition, as well as a reduction in your psychotic states and in your ongoing need for treatment
  • Improved health, which is marked by fewer doctor and ER visits, and fewer hospitalizations
  • Improved public safety, such as a reduction in drug-related car accidents, fires, and trauma caused to yourself or to others
  • Improvements in education, including attending school on a more regular basis and achieving better grades
  • Improvements in employment, including but not limited to more days worked and an increase in your involvement in school and training programs
  • Improvements in your relationship improvements, including your relationships with family, friends, colleagues, and romantic partners
  • Reduced drug use, including but not limited to complete abstinence, reduction in the frequency of substance use, using the substance in smaller amounts both in general and for every instance of use, as well as longer periods of time passing in between relapses

That said, there are some things that you need to look for while searching for an effective addiction treatment and rehabilitation program. These things include but are not always limited to:

  • A program that lasts 90 days or longer, as well as one that encourages you to follow this up with outpatient treatment and therapy and the attendance of support group meetings
  • Access to medications, when needed and/or desired
  • Emphasis on the use of multiple forms of rehab and treatment
  • Individualized treatment provided by licensed addiction counselors
  • Physicians who have been certified and licensed by the Board of Addiction Medicine in the US
  • Staff members who hold - at the very least - a master's degree
  • The ability of the facility to treat other underlying medical, mental health, and social issues over and above your substance abuse and addiction

The important thing to keep in mind is that it is possible to find different types of addiction treatment and rehabilitation programs. These programs also use different recovery methods offered in different contexts. To find the right one, it is important that you ask questions to learn as much as you can about what to expect from the program, and look for one that will help you overcome your substance abuse and addiction in the most effective and permanent way possible.

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