Does Rehab Actually Work?

Sharon was the life of the party back in the day. She was sharp-witted and funny with a drink in her hand. Alcohol made her bold, sardonic and loud. When you got to the bar and saw Sharon there holding court, you knew you were in for a good show. You may know someone just like her.

Her whole social circle was deflated when she decided to get sober. She joined AA and stopped coming out. Now she would only be seen at family functions, a soft drink in her hand. To her face, old friends rewarded her sobriety, but when she was gone, they bemoaned the loss of a good-time friend. She seemed dull and cranky now.

Sharon went through two years of sobriety with the help of AA and other short-term programs. This initial sobriety was followed by a few years of relapse into active drinking and then a couple more years of almost no drinking. Altogether, she worked on herself, faced her demons and rebuilt her life for eight years before she was securely addiction-free. Now, she’s happy, fun and sober.

For every hard-fought recovery success story such as this one, there is a least one tragedy. You probably know someone just like Sharon whose path took a much different direction. Everyone who goes to AA meetings or seeks treatment but doesn’t end up sober. Even a long-term stay in a rehab is no guarantee of success. The only guarantee is that if you don’t try rehab, you will continue to abuse drugs.

Millions of people have recovered from addiction, because rehab really does work. The media tends to focus on the few who fail rehab because it makes more exciting headlines. And for some, it isn’t the magic pill they were looking for. But rehab centers are full of success stories and people currently working toward a lifetime of sobriety.

Why Does Addiction Rehab Work?

It’s hard to know what makes rehab work for some people and not for others. Did they really try? Did they make a full commitment to recovery? Did they have the support system they needed? Did they have an aftercare plan in place before leaving rehab? Did the rehab program they choose uncover the underlying issues that led to their addiction? Did they receive treatment that addresses healing on every level?

Rehab programs are kind of like learning a foreign language. Most people who want to speak a foreign language don’t know how to learn. More specifically, they don’t know their own learning style. So, they go out and buy a language-learning program that guarantees they will be speaking the new language by the time they complete the program. Unfortunately, most people who buy this software never speak a new language because they don’t finish the program.

You see, changing the way your brain works — whether learning a new language or giving up an addiction — takes time, commitment and repetition. You could read a book about speaking a foreign language, just as you could read one about understanding addiction, but it won’t make you fluent or sober.

No matter what type of rehab program you choose or how much support you have, recovering from addiction takes hard work and a lifelong commitment. There is no magic pill, and it is not something you can squeeze into your two-week vacation. Drug rehab results are partly based on the time and effort you devote to your recovery.

The Complexities of Addiction

Addiction is classified as a mental health illness, but it also has physical components. The first step to breaking addiction — and the one most people focus on — is detox. Even cigarette smokers can tell you about the physical pain of addiction. When a smoker goes too long without a cigarette, he or she experiences physical symptoms that scream, “more nicotine is needed!”

To go through detox, an addict has to brave the potential symptoms of withdrawal. While an addict was an active drug user, his or her body chemistry underwent changes. They happened gradually and were eased by the presence of the substance of choice. When he or she decides to stop using and go through detox, the body chemistry must readjust rather swiftly.

Many substances cause such a profound chemical change that it is not safe to simply stop taking them. Professionally supervised detox is recommended for most addictions. During a professionally supervised detox, symptoms can be managed for a safer and more comfortable experience.

Addiction After Detox

After detoxing, you then have to address the mental and behavioral health side of addiction. This can take time and is a different journey for everyone. Addiction seldom presents alone. Often, an addict will also have one or more other mental or behavioral health issues. Sometimes prolonged drug use causes changes in the brain that result in mood or anxiety disorders, dementia or psychosis. In other cases, an underlying mental or behavioral health illness may have led to the drug addiction.

Whether the addiction came first or after, multiple mental or behavioral health illnesses are usually in play when treating addiction. Add to that the fact that substance abuse is not usually singular, either. By the time a person reaches the level of addiction, he or she is usually involved with more than one substance. Alcohol rehab is often in the mix, but not always. Finding a root cause for multiple addictions does not happen in a day or a week. There is a lot of rehab work to be done after detox is completed.

What’s in a Rehab Program?

We tend to give the name “rehab” to a number of different treatment modalities. Basically, any structured attempts to break the addiction cycle can be referred to as rehab. Rehab centers are probably the most commonly talked about and most poorly understood of all the addiction treatment options.

Most often we hear about celebrities going to rehab. They seem to disappear into a resort-like rehab center, and we expect them to emerge a month later cured. Drug rehab centers provide a number of different treatments. They can be a one-stop shop for addiction recovery. From detox to reintegration, a rehab center can guide your complete recovery.

A lot of hard work goes on inside the walls of a rehab center, despite the spa-like look. Being in a center helps people focus on all aspects of their recovery without the distractions of everyday life, work, relationships and stress. All of this work takes time, but most rehab centers have a fairly high success rate.

The most effective rehab programs also create a customized aftercare program that tap into your local resources. With a proper aftercare program in place, you can get the support you need to successfully reintegrate into your community and face the stressors of everyday life. There are 12-step programs such as AA for various types of addictions in most communities. Whether your recovery was accomplished through a 12-step program or not, the added support of these groups can make the difference between a successful long-term recovery and relapse.

On-going mental and behavioral health counseling will also contribute to the long-term success of addiction recovery. Mental and behavioral health illness takes time to remediate, and in some cases, requires continual guidance. Developing a relationship with a counselor who is conveniently located near home is an important step in long-term recovery.

Support groups can also improve long-term results of recovery from addiction. There is something very special about the bond created between people with similar experiences. For some reason, just knowing that you are not the only one who has ever dealt with addiction makes it easier to cope. Meeting some of those other people and hearing their stories affirms your decision to get clean and stay healthy.

Finding the Right Rehab Program for You

As with many other things in life, successful addiction recovery starts with having realistic goals. You may want to climb a mountain, but if you expect to do it all in one day, you will be disappointed. Being successful means writing a reasonable definition of success for you.

Rehab stats are hard to find, partly because rehab centers are not required to report uniform statistics about recovery rates. Based on the number of admissions in rehab centers, the number of reported addicts each year and other related data, however, it is clear that rehab works for over one million people each year.

While long-term recovery depends more on the individual than on the program, there are some common elements the most successful rehab programs share. Successful rehab programs offer individualized attention instead of a cookie-cutter treatment plan. Addiction recovery is not a one-size-fits-all science — mental and behavioral health illness is as unique as each brain afflicted with it. A rehab center with a recovery program that works will design a recovery plan for each client. This customized recovery program will address the specific needs, goals, challenges and interests of the client.

The most successful rehab programs also include a multi-pronged approach. Recovery depends on healing all levels of the person: physical, psychological, emotional and spiritual. Professionally supervised detox is the beginning of the physical rehab process. It needs to be followed up with exercise and nutritional guidance, as well, to get the body on track to long-term health.

Some exercise techniques heal the body and mind at the same time. Yoga and meditation are important disciplines that connect a healthy body with a healthy mind. Do drug rehab centers work? When they incorporate these forms of exercise into the program they do. Learning new habits for a healthy lifestyle ensures the success of long-term recovery.

Do rehab centers work? When they include some type of group therapy they do. Addiction can feel like a very private problem. Most people would shy away from talking about their issues, especially with more than one person. But none of us lives completely alone. It is important to interact with other people throughout the recovery process, so you are prepared to deal with people in the long-term when you leave the center. They cannot only be a great source of inspiration and validation, but they can provide the opportunity for you to help others as well, through sharing your story.

30-Day Rehab Programs: The Rehab Fast Track

If you’re wondering does 30-day rehab work, you might not understand the whole addition-recovery cycle. Sure 30-day rehab works. There are plenty of those programs, and they wouldn’t exist if they didn’t work. True success, however, depends on your definition of success.

Chances are you will not get clean and sober for the rest of your life in 30-days. Addiction is a complicated problem that does not resolve quickly. If you scale your expectations, though, you could find success in a 30-day rehab program as many people do.

An intense program like this is meant to be an emergency intervention and a jump-start on the long road ahead of you. When an addict reaches a point where his or her drug use poses an imminent physical danger, a 30-day program can be a lifesaver — literally.

In addition to mitigating the physical danger, 30-day programs are like bootcamp for addiction. They can break through some of the toughest cases, so healing can begin. At the end of 30-day program, you can expect to be clean and have a clearly mapped out plan for long-term recovery.

Importance of On-going Support

In order for any rehab program to work, you need to build a support system. Addicts usually hang around with other addicts and people who tolerate, appreciate and even facilitate their destructive behaviors. When an addict stops using, he or she isn’t comfortable or welcome in the same circles.

It’s great to get clean and feel as if you’re starting your life fresh, but no one likes to be without friends. Recovered addicts need to find clean sober friends who support their efforts to remain healthy. The on-going support of people close to you will help your rehab program work for long-term success.

Rehab programs that work are the ones that connect people to the support they’ll need for a lifetime of sobriety. They provide education for family members who wish to be part of the recovery support network. They also help find mental and behavioral health practitioners as well as support groups close to home.

Will Rehab Work for Me?

Addiction destroys lives. It negatively affects families, careers and social communities. Addiction recovery is hard work, but it is much better than continuing the destruction of substance abuse. The only way to know if rehab will work for you is to try it. It can’t be any worse than addiction.

When you or someone you know is ready to see first-hand how rehab works, contact 12 Keys. We can answer all of your questions over the phone about how our rehab program works, what it includes and how it could help you find your own unique path to long-term sobriety.

At 12 Keys you will receive all the individualized care and on-going support services you need for a successful long-term recovery. We have helped thousands of people recover from addiction and go on to live healthy, productive lives.

The Addiction Blog