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Does Rehab Work?

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health, less than 12 percent of the 22 million Americans who have a substance abuse problem enter hospitals or rehab centers for treatment. While some people seek treatment through channels such as 12-step programs, many others do not seek or get the addiction help they need. For them, rehab never has the chance to work or not work because they have not acknowledged that they have a problem that it is beyond their control to improve.

The short answer to whether rehab works is yes — rehab has proven to be an effective means of treating alcohol and other drug addictions. Does rehab work every time or for every person? Unfortunately, no, overcoming addiction is difficult and there is no such thing as a foolproof means of addiction recovery. But if you have recognized that you have an addiction and are preparing to enter rehab, there are ways in which you can give yourself the best chance of success.

Improve Your Odds of Rehab Success

First, decide that you really want to get better.Addicts who are forced or coerced into rehab programs are much less likely to successfully continue their treatment and much more likely to relapse.

Finding a Rehab Center

NIDA’s Know What to Ask: Pamphlet from the National Institute on Drug Abuse that describes questions you should ask when seeking a substance-addiction treatment program that’s right for you.

SAMHSA Treatment Facility Locator: Find substance abuse treatment and rehab centers in your state.

CCSA List of Helplines: Provincial/territorial drug- and alcohol-treatment contact numbers from the Canadian Center on Substance Abuse.

┬áSecond, get complete care.Detox is only the first step in addiction recovery. Enter a professionally supervised rehab program that will continue to offer you the ongoing treatment you need after that first difficult stage. After you leave the center, or if you are being treated through an outpatient rehab program, see your doctor and therapist as directed, be honest with them about how you’re feeling, and follow their instructions and recommendations about medications, lifestyle changes, etc.

Third, surround yourself with support. If you don’t have friends and family who can be there for you, find the local chapter of an anonymous addiction support group.

Risk Factors for Relapse

Unfortunately, even when you are in or have been through a rehab program, it can be more than tempting to begin engaging in the addictive behavior again. Some of the circumstances that can increase the risk of relapse include:

  • Having entered rehab involuntarily
  • Skipping or missing appointments with your doctor or counseling sessions with your therapist
  • Having another mental disorder, such as depression, anxiety or ADHD
  • Stressful job, family life or major life event
  • Feeling isolated; lack of strong network of family and friends to offer support
  • Spending time with peers or otherwise socializing with people who engage in the addictive behavior
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