Rehab, Relapse and the Road to Recovery
Relapse is a difficult subject to tackle because many people use it to invalidate all of the progress made during rehabilitation. If an addict has a slip or backslides, it is as if their previous hard work and abstinence goes out the window.
But, the reality is that most people don’t seek treatment and immediately achieve an abstinence from drugs and alcohol that they maintain for the rest of their lives. Relapse is built into the process.
If relapse occurs, does it make the rehab you attended a failure? Was it a waste of time?
The goal of rehab is initially to minimize drug use with a goal of eliminating it completely. And minimization is a success and complete abstinence achieved (if only for a period of time) via a professional treatment program, makes the rehab a success.
The discussion that follows will attempt to explain and normalize rehab, as well as highlighting the researched evidence that illustrates rehabilitation’s success. Ideally, you will walk away both encouraged about attending rehab and prepared for rehabilitation.
It’s a process. The road to recovery has obstacles and you will be able to make it past them with professional help and support.
Each individual attending rehab will have different long-term and short-term goals and this is why individual treatment plans are drawn up. But, all specialized substance abuse rehab programs have 3 general goals, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA):
- Decreasing substance abuse or realizing a substance-free life
- Making the most of multiple aspects of life functioning
- Stopping or reducing the regularity and severity of relapse
Relapse prevention or reduction made the list. Partially this is because modern rehabilitation tends to be short-term, structured, and intensive with an emphasis on aftercare post-discharge. The primary concern of after care will be limiting or preventing relapse because experts know that relapse is a natural part of the process and needs to be prepared for.
But, does rehab succeed at achieving these goals?
Honestly, it is impossible to predict with any certainty how effective your rehab program will be for you. Different approaches vary in success. However, overall, studies indicate that rehab works. SAMHSA reports the following findings:
- The bulk of substance-dependent patients ultimately stop chronic use and have relapse episode less frequently and with diminished severity.
- The most constructive effects typically happen while the patient is an active participant in treatment, but lengthy abstinence after treatment is a good predictor of ongoing success.
- Nearly 90 percent of those who maintain abstinence for 2 years remain drug- and alcohol-free at 10 years.
- Individuals who remain in treatment for lengthier periods of time are also likely to attain maximum benefits—maintaining treatment for 3 months or longer is often a predictor of a successful conclusion
- Patients who have serious social, legal, and vocational problems have the greatest likelihood of profiting from treatment.
- Continuing involvement in aftercare or self-help groups after treatment also seems to be associated with positive outcomes.
Relapse: Part of the Road to Recovery
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the chronic nature of addiction means that a relapse to drug abuse is not only possibly, it is probable. Relapse rates for addiction mirror those for other well-understood chronic diseases, like asthma, type I diabetes, and hypertension. Every one of these other diseases also shares both physiological and behavioral components.
A chart from the Journal of the American Medical Association shows the following rates of relapse for those with the chronic illness:
- Drug addiction: 40 to 60 percent
- Type I diabetes: 30 to 50 percent
- Hypertension: 50 to 70 percent
- Asthma: 50 to 70 percent
Treatment of chronic diseases like these depends on changing deeply entrenched behaviors, which makes maintaining perfect abstinence a real challenge. All a lapse in sobriety means is that you need to reinstate treatment or adjust it or begin another type of treatment.
To find a treatment that can get you on the road to recovery, call 800-481-6320. Don’t worry that you will relapse. With the right program, there is a high chance that your sobriety will succeed. But, if you have had a relapse or you have one in the future, returning to treatment is appositive choice with positive outcomes.
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