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Does Drug Rehab Work? Rehab Success Rates And Statistics

Isaac Alexis, M.D., AAMA, AMP-BC

Medically reviewed by

Isaac Alexis, M.D., AAMA, AMP-BC

May 28, 2019

There are several different types of drug rehab. These include inpatient treatment, outpatient programs, and detox programs. The success of drug rehab depends on a number of factors, including the individual’s condition and level of addiction.

According to Medscape, drug overdose is now the leading cause of injury-related deaths in the United States. In fact, the Center for Disease Control estimates that approximately 115 people die daily due to drug-related incidents.

Despite these statistics, only an estimated 10 percent of people get the drug treatment they need. And of those who do seek treatment, only a small percentage stay sober in the long term.

While these facts may be discouraging, it’s important to know that drug rehab success rates are highly subjective. Rehab programs can be incredibly beneficial to people struggling with a substance use disorder, and statistics shouldn’t keep someone from getting the treatment they need and deserve.

Let’s explore the different factors that play a role in the success rates of drug rehab programs.

Different Types Of Drug Rehab Programs

There are several forms of drug rehab programs that are available to help someone overcome drug addiction. The type of treatment a person chooses to pursue should be determined by his or her needs and level of addiction.

Different types of drug rehab programs include:

  • Inpatient TreatmentInpatient drug rehab is an intensive form of treatment that lasts several weeks or months. Patients spend an average of 31 days at inpatient rehab and undergo intensive and daily treatment.
  • Residential Treatment — This form of drug rehab provides long-term treatment that lasts an average of two to three months. Many residential programs rely on peer counselors to help individuals get and stay sober.
  • Outpatient Programs — Outpatient treatment is less intensive than inpatient and residential drug rehab programs. Outpatient programs typically offer weekly therapy sessions as well as group counseling.
  • Medically Supervised Detox Programs — A detox program is often a necessary and important aspect of a person’s recovery from addiction. Detox programs help people safely and effectively withdraw from drugs so they can begin treatment completely sober.

Each type of drug rehab has varying success rates. Treatment success varies significantly from individual to individual and is based on a number of personal factors.

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Success Rates Of Drug Rehab Programs

A study published in the Open Journal of Psychiatry found that an estimated three out of 10 people who attend a rehab program remain sober for at least one year after treatment. This equates to a roughly 30 percent success rate of drug rehab programs.

The following is a break down of drug rehab success rates by treatment program:

  • Inpatient and residential treatment programs tend to have a slightly higher success rate than outpatient programs (21 percent)
  • Outpatient treatment success rates tend to be around 18 percent
  • People who only attend a detox program typically have an even lower success rate than those who complete outpatient or inpatient treatment (17 percent)

It’s important to note that maintained sobriety is what these success rates are based on. While continued sobriety is certainly a positive thing, there are several other factors that should be considered when determining the success of a drug rehab program.

In addition to continued sobriety, the following should be considered in relation to a successful drug rehab program:

  • improvements in work and school
  • decreased drug abuse
  • fewer health problems
  • better relationships with friends and loved ones
  • mental health stabilization
  • decreased legal problems
  • increased safety

While long-term sobriety is certainly the goal of drug rehab programs, the above factors should also be taken into account. If a person relapses after receiving treatment, this doesn’t necessarily mean that the treatment was a failure.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, an estimated 40 to 60 percent of people with a drug or alcohol addiction will relapse. This is similar to the relapse rates of conditions such as asthma, hypertension, and type I diabetes. Like these conditions, addiction is a disease. As with other diseases, relapse is sometimes part of the recovery process.

Is Drug Rehab Worth It?

While the drug addiction recovery statistics may seem less than encouraging, attending a drug rehab program can be very beneficial. People who attend addiction treatment often leave with a better understanding of their addiction as well as the tools needed to cope with everyday life without using drugs or alcohol.

A major factor that keeps people from seeking treatment is the cost. However, drug rehab programs are typically much cheaper than the alternatives. For example, a person who attends treatment will likely have less social and health costs due to improved health. People who attend rehab will likely do better at work, which can result in an increase in income.

At the end of the day, attending a drug rehab program can positively impact every aspect of a person’s life. Even if relapse occurs, many people who attend treatment will be more likely to resume a sober life than those who don’t complete a rehab program.

How To Choose The Right Drug Rehab Program For You

There are several different types of drug rehab programs to choose from. The program that’s best for you will depend on a number of factors. These include your level of addiction, co-occurring disorders, and your unique needs.

Statistics have shown that the longer a person stays in treatment, the more successful he or she will be. Additionally, keeping the focus on an overall improvement in the quality of life rather than complete abstinence is key to a successful treatment experience.

To learn more about how drug rehab works and the success rates of drug rehab programs, contact a treatment specialist today.

National Institute on Drug Abuse - Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide (Third Edition)

Daily News - Prescription drugs account for majority of opioid-related ER visits: study

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration - Results from the 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Summary of National Findings

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