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Is Rehab Effective? Does it Work?

If you are struggling with a substance use disorder (SUD), you are not alone. In fact, in the United States in 2020, 40.3 million people aged 12 or older had an SUD in the past year.1 SUDs can have a detrimental impact on your life, and the consequence of addiction can be painful, dangerous, and can even lead to death. From April 2020 to April 2021, the overdose death rates rose 28.5% in the U.S., from 78,056 to 100,306.2 There are many different treatment programs and services available to help with alcohol and drug misuse and abuse, but are they effective?


Does Rehab Work?

Substance abuse treatment is valuable if it’s effective. And, in general, yes, rehab does work. Treatment works with you to help you end compulsive substance use.3 The 3 goals of treatment are:4

  • To help you stop using drugs and alcohol.
  • To help you remain sober.
  • To support you in being productive at home, work, and in society.

Substance abuse treatment is a comprehensive process that utilizes several evidence-based services, such as behavioral therapies and medications, and offers a variety of treatment settings based on your needs.3 The experience of treatment is different for each person.

Treatment may not be effective for everyone, or it may take multiple treatment episodes for you to get sober. In fact, most people require multiple treatment episodes and/or long-term care to achieve and maintain long-term recovery.4

Many people who struggle with SUDs also experience other problems, some of which can be severe. Physical and mental health challenges, unemployment, legal problems, and family conflict are common among people struggling with SUDs.3 Effective substance abuse treatment addresses these challenges to meet the complex needs of each person.3


Find Out If Your Insurance Plan Covers Alcohol or Drug Rehab

American Addiction Centers can help people recover from substance misuse and substance use disorders (SUDs). To find out if your insurance covers treatment for you or your loved one at an American Addiction Centers facility, click here, or fill out the form below. Your information is kept 100% confidential. You can also click here to find an addiction treatment center near me.


Rehab Success Rates & Statistics

Due to the complex nature of addiction, there is no simple statistic that summarizes the success rates of substance abuse treatment. Nor is there 1 single factor that determines treatment effectiveness. However, research has shown that people who enter and remain in treatment for an adequate length of time stop using alcohol and drugs, improve their social, occupational, and family functioning, and reduce their criminal behavior.5

Additionally, positive treatment outcomes are directly impacted by length of time in treatment, and studies show that treatment participation for less than 90 days may be less effective.6 However, even if you can’t stay in treatment for 90 days, any length of treatment helps. Unfortunately, many people struggling with SUDs do not receive the treatment they need. In 2020, only 2.6 million people who met criteria for an SUD received any type to treatment—leaving over 37 million who did not receive substance abuse treatment.1

Other notable statistics about rehab success rates include:7,8

  • In a study conducted on liver transplant recipients for people with alcohol use disorder (AUD), relapse rates for those who received treatment before and after the transplant were much lower (16%) than those who received no treatment (41%).
  • While it’s hard to pinpoint, research shows that many people require multiple treatment attempts (approximately 2–5) before they acquire long-term recovery.

Does Relapse Mean You Failed?

Addiction, like many other disorders, can involve relapse once treatment is over. Similar to other chronic disorders like asthma, diabetes, and hypertension, the risk of relapse for SUDs increases post-treatment.5 It is estimated that anywhere between 40%–60% of people struggling with an SUD will relapse after treatment is complete, which is comparable to the 50%–70% of people with hypertension who relapse.5 That doesn’t mean that treatment was ineffective or unsuccessful.

Everyone is different, and it can take some people many treatment attempts to find lasting recovery. Fortunately, newer treatments are available that target relapse prevention efforts.9

If you relapsed or a loved one recently relapsed, understand that it is part of the process of recovery. It can take many treatment attempts before you or your loved one achieves long-lasting recovery.9 If you relapsed, talk to your doctor to resume treatment or to find suitable treatment options.9


What Should Recovery Look Like?

Like addiction, recovery is a complex process that involves many stages and services and has no finite end. The process of recovery is different for everyone and is a lifelong journey that is constantly evolving. For some, it may include relapse. As you move through the phases of recovery, your needs will evolve and change.

It is important to assess your continuing needs and obtain the support and services you need throughout your recovery journey. Generally, your recovery will begin with more intensive services, such as inpatient or residential treatment, and gradually lessen in intensity over time to intensive outpatient and outpatient services.9


How to Find an Effective Drug Rehab

An important part of finding lasting success in recovery is finding the right treatment center. When looking for a treatment center, do your due diligence and note the centers credentials, licensing, accreditations, reviews from previous clients, and services offered. Each person has their own unique needs, and it is crucial to find a program that is suitable for you.

After identifying a suitable facility, you will be assessed, and, together with a licensed mental health/medical professional, you will create an individualized treatment plan that includes appropriate levels of care, clinical interventions (including specialty programs if appropriate), and continuing care options.10


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