The nature of addiction is such that relapse is a necessary part of recovery, not an indication of failure itself. In fact, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) estimates that the relapse rates for substance use disorders (SUDs) are between 40 to 60 percent.
Why? Because substance addiction is a chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory, and related circuitry, according to the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM). What’s more, addiction will cause people to lose control over their ability to abstain from a substance, use in the face of adverse circumstances, and display compulsive behaviors around a particular substance.
The relapse rate for substance abuse is not unlike those of other chronic conditions such as hypertension and asthma. The rates for those conditions hover between 50 to 70 percent.
Despite the threat of relapse, the ultimate benefit of drug and alcohol rehabilitation is that it can restore your physical, mental, and spiritual health through an array of services and evidence-based treatments.
However, your drug or alcohol treatment success depends on your willingness to realize sustained recovery. Read on to find out how you can maximize your substance abuse treatment experience and what all excellent professional recovery programs have in common.
Typically, before a full-blown addiction occurs, you have to develop a tolerance and dependence to a substance. Tolerance occurs when the body is no longer responsive to a drug, and a higher dose is needed to achieve the same effect, according to NIDA.
Dependence is established when you need a drug in your system to feel normal. Once the substance cycles out of your body, you start to experience withdrawal symptoms.
Dependence graduates to addiction when you display compulsive drug-seeking behaviors around your substance of choice. It also means that you will seek out and use a substance in the face of adverse circumstances like a dangerous health condition or legal consequence. You may also show physical, psychological, and behavioral signs of addiction.
Common behavioral signs include:
The psychological signs of addiction can look like the following:
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), published by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) and serves as the principal authority for psychiatric diagnoses, lists eleven criteria that comprise addiction.
If you display two of the following symptoms over 12 months, an addiction to a substance might be present:
A reputable drug rehabilitation center adheres to the standards established by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) in its Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment, which are outlined as follows:
Drug rehab facilities that adhere to these principles offer you the best chance at a successful and sustained recovery. However, if you are considering addiction treatment, you have to take measures to give yourself the best chance at success as well.
It’s cliché at this point, but achieving sobriety is a two-way street. It is not only incumbent upon the rehab facility to administer the best treatment plan for your needs, but you also have to bring the right attitude and willingness to make this process work.
According to Psychology Today, some things you can do to achieve a successful recovery are:
While this seems obvious, the point remains indisputably true. If you are unwilling to embrace the treatment process to become sober, rehab will ultimately be a waste of your time and money. As noteworthy doctor Hans Selye once said, “Adopting the right attitude can convert a negative stress into a positive one.”
When you enter drug treatment, you have to uphold the belief that you can overcome challenges and make things happen. Psychology Today refers to this concept as self-efficacy, and it is critical to your success: “Once you’ve decided to get clean, you have to have a conviction that you can actually do it.” This can be challenging because past experiences can cloud your perspective and attempt to sabotage your recovery journey.
However, as Psychology Today points out, the more positive changes you can make, the more capable and stronger you feel. This can create the momentum you need to continue those positive changes.
Simply put, people in recovery who have untreated anxiety or depression do not stay sober for very long. It is critical that people in treatment address their anxiety or depression issues. Why? Because those untreated mental health issues can manifest when symptoms become overwhelming. When those symptoms arise, they can compel people to return to the substance that got them addicted in the first place, resulting in relapse.
Interpersonal support from family members, friends, counselors, and/or other confidants, is essential to recovery. Surround yourself with individuals who understand and know what you are going through. These are the people who are willing to stand by and cheer you on as you go through treatment. When rehab gets tough, these folks can keep you focused on your sobriety.
Because of the chaotic and volatile nature of addiction, it is essential that you develop a structured environment and daily routine. Structure and routine are the bedrocks of successful recovery.
According to Psychology Today, “It means establishing a sense of organization and order with regard to daily tasks and responsibilities. It means attending to the basic activities of daily life, keeping a simple daily schedule that you can stick to, maintaining a balanced lifestyle, and making sure sobriety remains a priority.”
When you incorporate these practices into your treatment process, you greatly bolster your chances of successful and sustained recovery.
Professional treatment entails a gamut of services best described as a continuum of care, a system of evidence-based recovery processes marked by four broad levels of therapy.
Whether your addiction is to alcohol, opioids, marijuana, or cocaine, a reputable, professional rehab program will remove that addictive substance from your body, reestablish your mental and physical stability, and help you identify the underlying causes of your addiction. What’s more, you will be equipped with strategies and life skills to successfully live as a sober and healthy individual.
If you have a substance abuse disorder and a co-occurring mental health issue, you can get specialized dual-diagnosis treatment. Dual diagnosis can help you address the anxiety or depression disorders that often derail recovery.
Professional treatment begins with medical detoxification, which occurs through acute treatment. Detox occurs when the addictive substance is removed from the body, and any present withdrawal symptoms are safely alleviated. During this process, a staff of doctors, nurses, and other medical personnel will provide you with around-the-clock care and supervision.
Depending on the severity and nature of your addiction, the next step after detox is clinical stabilization services, where you will have access to an array of treatment and counseling options that address the mind, body, and spirit. Such a comprehensive approach can effectively help you break the grip of addiction.
Those treatment and therapy options include the following:
If you have a mild addiction, then outpatient can occur after detox. Outpatient provides therapy and counseling on a part-time basis, allowing you the freedom and flexibility to attend to your life’s obligations.
After treatment is completed, you can get connected to a recovery community that can provide support and mentoring as you begin your new journey.
Measuring rehab success is not easy, nor is it simple to measure treatment outcomes. Fortunately, however, it is not impossible. Measurement is typically done at an individual, not program level.
You must understand that many factors determine long-term outcomes to treat chronic addictive disorders. You have to look at levels of drug use, family functioning, criminal behavior, employment, educational achievement, and medical problems.
The information is gathered prior to when treatment starts, and during treatment. It’s imperative to assess these problems that clients bring with them as they enter treatment to compare the effectiveness of the program.
An approach advocated by Psychology Today is to measure the overall quality of life. Many areas deserve attention when a person is entering recovery, which includes relationships, employment, mental well-being, fun and recreation, criminal involvement, and personal growth.
We all know someone in recovery that is miserable, and it requires a lot of work to address each of these areas. Sobriety doesn’t translate to success, and focusing on what we’ve discussed is how rehab success is measured.
The goal of treatment is to return individuals to productive functioning in the family, community, and workplace. Most of those who get into and remain in treatment will stop using drugs or alcohol, improve their occupational, social, and psychological functioning, as well as decrease their criminal activity.
Individual treatment outcomes are solely dependent on the extent and nature of the client’s problem, the appropriateness of treatment, and related services that are used to address the problems.
As with other chronic diseases, with the right help, addiction can be managed successfully.
Treatment allows people to counteract addiction’s disruptive effects on their brain and behavior to regain control of their lives. Relapsing is not only possible; it’s likely. Symptom recurrence rates are similar to diabetes, hypertension, and asthma.
American Society of Addiction Medicine. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.asam.org/resources/definition-of-addiction
Delphi Behavioral Health Group. (2018, August 30). Symptoms and Signs of Addiction in a Loved One. Retrieved from https://delphihealthgroup.com/addiction/signs-of-addiction/
Fundamental Factors of Success in Addiction Recovery. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/mindfully-present-fully-alive/201712/fundamental-factors-success-in-addiction-recovery
Medina, J. (2018, November 19). Revised Alcohol/Substance Use Disorders. Retrieved from https://psychcentral.com/disorders/addictions/substance-use-disorder-symptoms/
National Institute on Drug Abuse. (n.d.). Principles of Effective Treatment. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-drug-addiction-treatment-research-based-guide-third-edition/principles-effective-treatment
Rethinking How We Measure Addiction. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/all-about-addiction/201811/rethinking-how-we-measure-addiction
Measuring the Effectiveness of Drug Addiction Treatment. (2004, March 30). Retrieved from https://archives.drugabuse.gov/testimonies/2004/measuring-effectiveness-drug-addiction-treatment
National Institute on Drug Abuse. (n.d.). How effective is drug addiction treatment? Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-drug-addiction-treatment-research-based-guide-third-edition/frequently-asked-questions/how-effective-drug-addiction-treatment