Doubts about the effectiveness of drug rehab are one of the top reasons people give for not seeking treatment. Some have already tried and failed. Others have dropped out before completing their rehab program. But even when it takes another try at rehab, it doesn’t mean the first attempt wasn’t effective. If it takes more than one attempt to complete rehab and to live a life without addiction, the person still ends up accomplishing what they set out to do.
The Measure of Success
The information offered on the effectiveness of drug rehab comes from two sources; the rehab centers that offer treatment and research studies from government and independent agencies. There is no real standard for measuring the effectiveness of drug rehab. The freedom to determine their own parameters makes it easier for rehab facilities to boast of high success rates.
Rehab centers sometimes base their success rate strictly on the number of participants who complete the program. Most don’t give dropout rates at all. They may not use post-treatment consultations to measure how many of their clients stay drug-free after completing their rehab program.
Some centers consider all of these factors and a lot more. They strive to keep their treatments up-to-date and implement the newest tools proven to help their clients. When choosing a rehab center, don’t assume that a 90% success rate means that this portion of clients went on to lead successful lives. Ask what their protocol for measuring success is. It’s nearly impossible for your treatment to be effective if you and the rehab center don’t have the same goals.
The statistics provided by research are also misleading. Yes, there are more overdose deaths today than ever before. But the problem isn’t that drug rehab isn’t effective. It’s that a large number of the people who need treatment don’t get it.
The threat of addiction and overdose comes from a variety of prescription and illicit drugs. The added threat from drugs bought off the street is that there’s no guarantee of what is in them. Drug dealers are cutting drugs with more potent ingredients to reduce their costs. Many people who overdose never realize that they took a lethal drug.
Considering the potential risks that accompany addiction, people should still consider their rehab effective when they have to repeat it. Even if it takes a little longer and a lot more effort, overcoming addiction is worth it in comparison to the alternative.
Old and New Drugs Presenting Challenges
Some of the same addictive drugs used today have been around for decades. As early as 1902, an estimated 200,000 Americans were addicted to cocaine. Cocaine use peaked in 1982 with 10.4 million users. In 1998, that number dropped to 3.8 million while South American drug organizations expanded from the cocaine market into heroin. Crack, the free-base form of cocaine, started appearing in major cities around 1985. The drug was more affordable to working-class users, contributing to its rise in popularity between 1986 and 1988.
Injectable morphine gained recognition as a pain reliever during the Civil War, leading to the first wave of addiction during the mid-1800’s. Records show that people began injecting amphetamines in the 1950s, a practice which rose to widespread use by the 1960s.
LSD was accidentally discovered in 1943 by Swiss chemist, Dr. Albert Hofmann, who worked for a laboratory. During the 1950s, the military researched the drug as a potential truth serum. Immediately after the military dropped LSD in lieu of other drugs, its nontherapeutic use took off. Use dropped off in the 1970s and 1980s, only to resurge in popularity during the 1990s. The LSD made today is produced primarily in clandestine labs in Northern California at a potency that is nearly 90% weaker than that used during its peak.
Perhaps marijuana has the most interesting history of all. The plant was used as a medical drug between 1850 and 1937. Recreational use was limited until 1910, sparking debates as to whether the drug was addictive, dangerous, and led the way to more serious drug use. Now that medical marijuana is legal in 30 states and recreational marijuana is legal in 9 states, the debate still continues. The facts are that an estimated 30% of marijuana users do have a substance use disorder. Many have used it every day for several years and have failed when they tried to quit it.
People who start using marijuana at a younger age have a harder time quitting it. Over half of all illicit drug users begin with marijuana. The effectiveness of drug rehab for marijuana users depends on the individual program. Those that combine medications with behavioral therapies have shown the greatest promise.
New synthetic drugs continue to enter the scene, bringing higher risks of overdose. Many are easier to get than some of the older drugs, making the risk to our youth even greater. Even as the opioid crisis has reached epidemic proportions, all of the drugs listed above continue to contribute to the addiction problem in this country. In every single case, treatment in a qualified rehab facility is the only effective way to stop using these drugs. It’s also the safest way to overcome addiction.
What the Statistics Say
The goal of drug rehab is much more complex than getting the drug out of the user’s system. It’s about getting to the root of their addiction and what led them to use the substance in the first place. Effective treatment lets them get back to a fulfilling life as a functional member of their family, workplace, and society. For treatment to be effective, it has to extend to their personal, spiritual, physical, and mental well-being. Addiction impacts every area of the person’s life. Treatment has to do the same.
Once a person is addicted, using their drug of choice becomes the most important thing in their world. Their relationships fail, they can no longer perform at their job, and many turn to crime to get their drugs. Like other chronic diseases, addiction has a physical hold over the affected person. It causes changes in the chemistry of their brain. With repeated use, many users develop a tolerance to the drug. They need higher dosages to achieve the same good feelings. Cravings for the drug override everything else that ever mattered to them.
When a person relapses after treatment, they think it wasn’t effective. But that isn’t really true. When a diabetic treats their illness with insulin and keeps their glucose levels under control, they aren’t cured. They’re managing their disease. If they slip up and eat something they weren’t supposed to, it doesn’t cancel out the months or years of effectively managing their disease. The same is true for drug addiction rehab. Relapse doesn’t send you back to the beginning.
At first glance, some of the numbers are startling. We have more people dying from overdoses than ever before. But we also have more deadly drugs on the market, including things like fentanyl and carfentanil, the latter of which many people don’t even realize they’re getting.
– 1.4% of opioid deaths occur in an emergency room, leading professionals to think medical intervention works well at stopping overdoses and death.
– The drug responsible for the most deaths in 2017 was fentanyl and fentanyl analogs, resulting in almost 30,000 overdose deaths.
– Over 72,000 people died in the US in 2017 from drug overdoses. Of that number, 14,556 were from cocaine, 15,958 were from heroin, and 19,354 were from opioid pain relievers.
Even if rehab treatment was only 30% effective, if everyone who needed treatment got it, look at the impact it would have on this country’s problem with drug addiction. When a rehab facility uses a variety of treatment methods and a follow-up program, the success rates are a lot higher. That means getting more people into a good treatment program could save thousands of lives each year!
Every individual is different and so is their addiction. The rehab facility needs to perform an evaluation of the individual to determine the best combination of treatment types for them. Treatment doesn’t end once they leave the rehab center. Post-treatment counseling is one of the most significant factors in preventing relapse.
Stopping the Dropout Rates
Another way to make drug rehab more effective is by reducing dropout rates. Some common reasons people dropout include:
– They think they’re already better and don’t need further treatment.
– They feel out of place. Sharing their feelings with others and being away from their friends and family just makes some people uncomfortable and anxious. However, inpatient rehab has proven more effective than outpatient. For some people, getting away from the situations where they abused drugs in the first place helps them.
– They don’t think the treatment is right for them. Maybe they don’t believe that 12-step meetings work, or they’re uncomfortable talking to people in a group.
– They decide they don’t want to quit. They may feel they made the decision to go into treatment too hastily, and they leave.
– They miss their old life. It’s hard to stay away from friends and family for an extended period. Rehab centers that offer family counseling make it easier on the client and their family. It helps everyone learn what to do to prevent relapse once their loved one is back home.
– They don’t think they have enough to do. If they normally have a lot going on at any one time, staying in a tranquil setting where there are limited activities might seem boring. They drop out of the program because they want to get back to their regular activities.
– It’s too scary. Most people don’t really like change and the whole point of drug rehab is to change their life. While treatment is still in their future, they might feel optimistic. Once it becomes a reality, it can become really frightening.
The effectiveness of drug rehab depends on a number of factors. One is whether or not the facility does an evaluation of the person before they enter treatment. Every person needs treatment that is right for them. That means factoring in the substance or substances they are addicted to and the types of therapy that address their lifestyles.
It’s easy for people with addiction to feel guilty and undeserving. They deserve to be treated with compassion and understanding. If they aren’t, the effectiveness of drug rehab is a lot less likely. Society, in general, looks at drug addiction differently than they did in the past. We know that addiction is an illness and it requires medical treatment.
Treatment needs to be all-inclusive. Family members and friends often don’t know how to handle their loved one’s addiction. Even after treatment, knowing the right things to say and do is difficult. A rehab program that includes family members and friends accomplishes two things. It gives the individual the support they need. It also prepares the people in their life to help continue the rehabilitation long after the individual comes home from treatment.
Finding the Right Drug Rehab Center
Whether you are considering drug rehab for yourself or as an intervention for a loved one, choosing the right facility matters. Choosing the wrong facility could result in failing to complete the program. You want to increase your chances of success. One thing to look at in a rehab center is whether they offer medically managed substance abuse treatment. Medications have a positive impact on various types of treatment and help prevent relapse once treatment is completed.
Another thing to consider is whether the facility offers a diversity of treatment types. The more options they offer, the more individualized your treatment plan will be. Treating the physical side of addiction isn’t enough. Without addressing the mental issues, the details that led to addiction in the first place are still there.
People with addiction need quality care in a relaxing, positive environment. They need to learn coping strategies to control their cravings and deal with the influencers in their lives. Finally, they need a treatment program that includes aftercare.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions about the programs they offer and what they do differently. All of these factors contribute to the effectiveness of drug rehab. Start your program with the confidence that you will get better and take back control of your life.
If you or a loved one is suffering from drug addiction, contact Riverside Recovery Center to learn more about drug addiction treatment you can depend on. We work with our clients, their families, and their friends to put their lives back together. We are often referred to as Spokane’s “Best Drug Rehab Center.” We offer treatments for a broad range of addictions and fit the treatment to every individual’s needs.