Many people have the mistaken idea that professional substance abuse care, in particular inpatient rehab care, does not work. This notion stems from a number of misunderstandings about substance abuse, the chronic nature of addiction, and the definition of effective or successful recovery. At the same time, many drug rehab centers are guilty of failing to provide effective, evidence-based treatments to clients, neglecting the needs of individual patients in favor of a “one-size-fits-all” approach based on outdated methods of care. With the right implementation, drug rehab and continued treatment is effective in reducing or eliminating substance abuse and improving quality of life in patients.
The first major objection people commonly raise about drug rehab, and about substance abuse treatment as a whole, is the relatively high rate of relapse among people in recovery. If someone uses a drug again after attending rehab, the logic goes, treatment failed to “fix” their addiction and all was for naught. This is not the case.
Addiction is a chronic disease, with relapse rates that approach those of other diseases like “diabetes, hypertension, and asthma”. This does not mean that relapse is inevitable, or that maintained abstinence is not a valuable goal. It does mean, however, that relapse can and does occur even when treatment has successfully given people the right tools and strategies to cope with stress and address substance abuse.
Recovery is not an all-or-nothing goal for many people, but rather a process. Many people are “recovered” in that they have not used for a period of months or years, but they may still struggle with the occasional craving or desire to use again.
Rehab provides indispensable skills, strategies, and support to overcome drug abuse. Professional, continued treatment leads most people to “stop using drugs, decrease their criminal activity, and improve their occupational, social, and psychological functioning”. However, this is only true with the proper form and scope of drug rehab treatment.
For drug rehab or any form of substance abuse treatment to be effective, numerous conditions must be met. Care should not ignore individual differences and circumstances, but should be individualized and address clients’ specific needs. Care providers must pay attention to co-occurring mental disorders that commonly fuel substance abuse, and should offer treatment with clinically-backed interventions offered by licensed clinicians like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy – not enticing promises of recovering at a luxury spa.
Good recovery programs recognize that a 30-day stay is often not enough time for clients to develop the skills and habits needed to overcome their addiction, and should offer longer stays, extended care, sober living, continued treatment and support, or direction to further resources and care once an inpatient residence is over.
Drug rehab is not a magic pill that can solve all of one’s substance abuse issues for good. It does not guarantee sobriety or long-term abstinence, or keep individuals from falling back into old mistakes down the line. What it does, when implemented properly with continued care, is provide the tools, strategies, self-understanding, and community that serve as the foundation for a successful recovery and a happier, drug-free life.
It is up to each client to put those tools into action, preferably with the help of sustained treatment after rehab. Many attest to the vital role that rehab has played in their recovery – how the lessons, self-knowledge, and friendships developed there sustained them through stressful times, prepared them for the possibility of relapse, and helped them get back on track if it occurred.
If you or a loved one is struggling with a drug addiction, please call our admissions specialists at (603) 339-4160. We can help.