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Accomplishing Rehab

Key Factors in Completing Rehab-01

Addiction Affects Everyone

Despite being a chronic disease that can be extremely difficult to overcome, addiction can be successfully managed. In fact, research shows that those who seek and remain in treatment over an extended period of time stop using drugs, decrease their criminal activity and improve functioning in all areas of life, such as social, psychological, and occupational. While relapse is always a possibility, entering rehabilitation is often the best chance for recovery.

While everyone’s journey to sobriety is different, in most cases, , the most effective treatments include quick access, counseling, mental health treatments, and plans tailored to fit patients’ changing needs, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

We examined the demographic and behavioral factors associated with the successful completion of a residential treatment program, and uncovered some interesting correlations that help paint a better understanding of rehab success rates.

Do Your Homework

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While addiction affects people of all ages, many aging adults have better success in treatment programs than younger adults.

Only 39.5 percent of those aged 15 to 17 successfully completed treatment. Those aged 21 to 24 were only mildly more successful, with 40.3 percent finishing rehab. Most impressive, however, were those aged 55 and older – 53.5 percent of whom successfully completed rehab.

A possible reason for this success rate might have to do with the older population’s commitment to thorough research. Older adults could be spending more time learning about different treatment programs before committing to them. According to the New York Times, successfully completing rehab begins with doing your homework. Your first step should be an independent assessment of the need for treatment. The author, Jane Brody, also suggests thoroughly checking out the program’s credentials, and comparing the facility’s approach to your beliefs and practices. Find out whether you will be treated for any underlying issues, such as depression and anxiety. And finally, look for programs that use research-validated techniques – such as cognitive behavioral therapy.

Being There in a Time of Need

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When it comes to addiction, idleness can be dangerous. While full-time employees spend a significant amount of time at work, part-time and unemployed individuals may find themselves succumbing to drug abuse and other negative behaviors in their free time. With such a strong correlation between unemployment and drug abuse, it makes sense that full-time employees have a more successful rehab completion rate (53 percent) than those not in the labor force (45 percent), those working part-time (44 percent), and those who are unemployed (39 percent).

Improve Access for Minorities

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It’s no secret that most drug rehabilitation facilities cost quite a bit of money. In fact, a standard treatment facility can charge anywhere between $10,000 and $20,000 per month. While private insurance, Medicare, and Medicaid cover the treatment of substance abuse disorders under the Affordable Care Act, the quality and extent of coverage differs. These differences help explain the disparities in completion rates among different insurance types.

Based on our findings, 62 percent of those with private insurance (offered by one’s employer or organization) completed rehab, while 48 percent of those with Medicare and other insurance (such as TRICARE and CHAMPUS), were successful. Surprisingly, those without any insurance were more likely to complete rehab (47 percent) than those using Medicaid (40 percent).

Of the two million people entering publicly funded substance abuse treatment, one-third do not complete treatment. Of those entering these programs, 40 percent are racial and ethnic minorities. Unfortunately because of greater rates of crime history, higher enrollment in Medicaid, and lower income, minorities may have less access to treatment.

To combat these socioeconomic factors and increase the likelihood of minorities successfully completing rehab, researchers have recommended increasing Medicaid funding and improving cultural training for providers and residential treatment centers. According to researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, policies should also focus on times when minorities are most likely to drop out of treatment and invest in vocational training to prevent relapse.

Take Advantage of Educational Materials

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Alcohol is often depicted in fiction as one of the hardest drugs to quit. In films and novels, recovering alcoholics struggle to remain sober while going through the hardships of life. Often, relapse is inevitable. But does reality reflect this portrayal? When we looked at rehab completion rates by drug, we found that people seeking treatment for alcohol were more likely to complete rehab than any type of addict, with 53 percent successfully completing a program.

When it came to individuals struggling with benzodiazepine addiction, 47 percent were successful. Forty-one percent of people being treated for barbiturate addiction were also able to finish rehab. Less successful were those being treated for cocaine/crack, heroin, and marijuana – with only 38 percent of those groups successfully completing rehab. Those seeking treatment for over-the-counter medications were one of the least successful groups – only 29 percent completed treatment.

While alcohol is extremely addictive, heroin and cocaine are even more so. When ingested, heroin is converted to morphine, which slows down the body’s functioning. It is also thought to change opioid receptors in the brain. Cocaine, on the other hand, gives individuals an intense high that often results in a hard crash, leaving users wanting more. Thus, for individuals addicted to these drugs, completing rehab may feel like an impossible feat.

The biggest misconception, however, is attached to over-the-counter medications. Many people assume that OTC medications are safer than illicit drugs and may not realize that they can be just as addictive as other substances. Those currently seeking treatment for addiction and who may not fully understand the effects of drugs should take advantage of patient materials – such as booklets, fact sheets, and online tools – which discuss the science of addiction and substances. Knowing the truth behind addiction and uncovering the myths surrounding it are important steps on the road to recovery.

Don’t Be Afraid to Travel for Help

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With more than 14,000 treatment facilities across the U.S. – many filled to capacity – it is evident that a lot of people struggle with addiction. Some may be finding great success where they are, while others may be reevaluating their current program. When we looked at rehab completion rates by state, we saw dramatic differences in rates of success.

Despite the legalization of recreational marijuana, which went into effect in 2014, Colorado has one of the highest rates of rehab completion – 74 percent of those seeking treatment in this state successfully completed rehab.

Meanwhile, Florida saw a 68.6 percent success rate, while South Dakota saw 65.6 percent of participants successfully finish. Other states, unfortunately, cannot say the same. Virginia has one of the lowest completion rates in the country by far – 3.5 percent. New Mexico isn’t doing much better, with only a 3.6 percent completion rate. Kentucky, while still in the low end of the spectrum, had a success rate of 22.5 percent.

For many recovering addicts, seeking rehab away from their home environments can be extremely beneficial. In the addict’s home area, the temptation to do drugs can be overwhelming. Being in a new place – with new people and surroundings – can bring the person’s focus back to the problem at hand: addiction and recovery.

If finances allow and there are no familial obligations, substance users should consider relocating for treatment. Even traveling abroad – also known as medical tourism – can increase the chances of successfully completing rehab. Just make sure that you properly consider any risks before committing.

Beyond Rehab

While addiction may not be completely curable, it is possible to fight back. Although some factors outside of your control – such as age and insurance – may play a part in successful recovery, many other factors in your control can ensure a successful outcome.

To ensure success, you can be proactive by thoroughly researching treatment centers and reading materials on addiction. You can ask your family to offer compassion and support. You can choose to relocate. You can confide in other recovering addicts and take care of your body. Most importantly, you can forgive yourself if you relapse. It doesn’t mean you have failed.

If you or someone you know is currently battling addiction, we can guide you through the recovery process. Call American Addiction Centers at today to reclaim your life and find the best treatment program for you.


We analyzed data from the 2011 Treatment Episode Data Set on rehab center discharges from the Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, which is part of the United States’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The data set contains records about patients who check in and out of drug rehabilitation centers. Each record includes data on a patient, such as race, sex, method of payment or the drug(s) for which they received treatment.

Source: 2011 Treatment Episode Data Set – Discharges

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