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October 30, 2019

Rehab Success Rate – How Success Is Determined in 2019

If you or someone you know is committed to overcoming an addiction, rehabilitation at a dedicated treatment center should be considered. It allows you to get away from the various people and environments of your daily life that might have been contributing to your addiction.

When you are removed from everything else, and you focus on your recovery under the careful supervision of dedicated professionals, you increase your chances of success. If you want to know more about the success rate of rehab, we cover that here.

Table of Contents

  • How is rehab success determined?
  • How should rehab at a treatment center be evaluated?
  • What is the success rate of rehab?

What Is Considered a Success in Rehab Treatment?

If you’ve looked into rehabilitation centers for treatment and tried researching success rates, it can be frustrating. Unfortunately, there is no standardized determination for what “success” should mean among all rehab centers.

When any given rehab center reports on their success rates, they could mean any of the following things:

  • The person completed the rehab program at the center
  • The person is considered sober when they leave the center
  • The person is interviewed sometime after completing the program
  • The center itself uses its own internal metric of a ‘success’

There are four main problems in deciding how long a former addict needs to stay “clean” in order for their rehab to be determined as a success.

First is the issue of behavior. An addict might complete their rehab without taking any more substances, but they might also still have active cravings that were not resolved.

Second is the issue of reporting. There are sadly very few comprehensive studies that follow someone for very long after they finish their rehab.

The third is the issue of the addict themselves. Are they being forced to attend rehab by court order, or by their family? If they are not entirely willing to receive treatment and recover from their addiction, that will affect the ultimate success of the treatment they are given.

Fourth is the issue of time. If someone stays clean with no cravings for several years but ultimately has a relapse, should that be considered a failure?

The truth is that addiction is more like a chronic illness than it is a temporary condition. That means that most addicts relapse after they have a period of recovery. While that might seem deflating, it’s important to set your expectations accordingly when it comes to determining success.

How Should Rehab at a Treatment Center Be Evaluated?

With the above example in mind, let’s look at how you can get what you want out of your rehab and consider it a success. We believe that trying to set arbitrary lengths of time is no better to evaluate success as it is to just leave the center fully clean.

Rehab treatment should be evaluated based on the quality of care and treatment they provide, including after the program is completed. It should not be based on pure volume of people coming and going, or a single success vs failure percentage figure put on a report.

If you want to look at true success, you want to hear from former clients that attended a rehab center. What do they say about the facility, and the people providing care to the recovering addicts? Do they continue to provide help after a person walks out of the door? Do they keep the person’s health and well-being at the forefront of their service?

Here are some of the primary points that should be considered when evaluating the success of a rehab center:

  • Are their clients encouraged to stay for longer if they feel it is needed?
  • Does the center help their clients build a support system to aid in their long-term recovery?
  • Does the center provide a formal aftercare support program for when their clients leave the facility?
  • Does the center provide resources and information to their clients’ family and friends to increase the chances of long-term success?
  • Does the center provide a diverse array of treatments and therapy to suit each individual’s needs?

If you ask a rehab center about their success rates, you should ask them on what do they base their figures. Ask them for client testimonials, read reviews online, and ask them these questions about their services.

What Is the Success Rate of Drug & Alcohol Rehab?

All of that said, let’s look at what we do know about the success rates of rehab programs for drug and alcohol addiction.

First, there was a study in 2006 on recovering from the alcohol addiction that compared the relapse rates of those who received rehab treatment and those who did not. It found that the relapse rate was significantly lower for people who received treatment for their addiction. Here is a specific conclusion it drew:

“Compared to individuals who obtained help, those who did not were less likely to achieve 3-year remission and subsequently were more likely to relapse. Less alcohol consumption and fewer drinking problems, more self-efficacy and less reliance on avoidance coping at baseline predicted 3-year remission; this was especially true of individuals who remitted without help.”

There are multiple studies quoted in the link above. One shows the difference in success rates for treated vs non-treated individuals at 21% vs 43%. A second study showed success rates at the 1-year mark at 23% for untreated vs 40% for treated. Longer-term success rates, as mentioned above, are almost impossible to find.

While the exact figures are different, the same trend holds true for people who are addicted to drugs. Another study on the effectiveness of long-term residential rehab treatments for women with substance abuse issues comes to a similar conclusion — the longer and better the rehab, the better the success rate:

“Despite differences in treatment programs, client profiles, follow‐up intervals, data collection methods, and other factors, all three studies found high treatment success rates—ranging narrowly from 68% to 71% abstinent—among women who spent six months or more in treatment. Success rates were lower, and between‐study differences were larger, for clients with shorter stays in treatment.”

It is true that there are issues in assessing and reporting on rehabilitation success rates. However, what studies and data exist will all show that there is a significantly higher chance of success in recovering from addiction with rehab at a treatment center. More specifically, there is a higher chance of success the longer you receive treatment, including aftercare programs.

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