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Why Does Rehab Fail?

Posted by on in Drug Addiction
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Around the addiction treatment profession there are statistics floating around like “only 2% of people who go to rehab stay sober” or “90% of people who leave rehab will end up in another rehab”. These statistics tend to make it seem like addiction treatment has a low success rate. In my opinion, there are only a few reasons for these statistics.

Reason A) Rehab and Treatment Don’t Work

Reason B) Addiction Can’t Be Fixed, It’s Impossible to Stay Sober

Reason C) The Patient Doesn’t Give Their Best Effort or Follow Suggestions

We know from experience and research that the first two reasons can occur, but they are not the contributing factor as to why rehab fails. Rehab has been proven to be successful for addiction, and people with addiction can heal and stay sober. It is true that staying sober is not a simple or easy feat, and rehab does not work for everyone or every time. Thus logic and evidence would point to Reason C as the main factor in why rehab programs fail to work. Read about my Top 8 reasons why rehabs fail….

  1. Wrong Choice of Rehab: Choosing the right facility for addiction treatment is important. Different places accommodate various conditions and specialize in different areas. Discuss your needs and concerns before entering a rehab.


  1. Wrong Level of Care: Rehabs have different levels of care for different clients. Residential facilities and Partial Hospitalization Programs are considered more ‘intensive’ programs. Intensive Outpatient is a more ‘moderate’ program, yet still requires motivation and high involvement. It is important that a person struggling with addiction chooses the right level of care.


  1. Leaving Treatment Early: Most rehab programs recommend 60-90 days of treatment. There are many reasons why people leave rehab early; financial reasons, insurance cutoffs, job demands, family crisis, etc. Unfortunately, people who leave treatment early are much more likely to relapse than persons who complete the full treatment.


  1. Enter Rehab for the Wrong Reason: People enter rehab with the best intentions. Perhaps they want to get sober for their family, to save a marriage, avoid going to jail, or to keep their career. While these are certainly motivators, it requires a deeper personal desire to get sober. It is said, “You can’t get sober for others, you have to do it for yourself”.


  1. Unwilling to Take Suggestions or be Open-Minded: At rehab, the therapists and counselors design activities and programs designed to get clients out of their comfort zone. Many addicts are not comfortable opening up or trusting others. However, it is crucial for success to follow suggestions and keep an open mind about addiction and recovery.


  1. Underestimate Their Addiction: After a person goes through detox they usually begin to feel better immediately, both physically and mentally. They may think that they are cured and they don’t need to do all the work required in rehab to stay sober. People often underestimate the power of addiction, especially the temptations that arise outside of rehab.


  1. Fail to Learn Coping Skills: In addiction, drugs and alcohol are the main methods the addict uses to cope with stress, pain, suffering, and anxiety. When they get sober, they often lose their ‘go to’ coping mechanisms. In sobriety it is important to learn healthy coping skills to replace the alcohol and drugs. These healthy habits will be important when trauma, loss, and stress arise in sobriety.


  1. Fail to Commit to Recovery After Rehab: Professional treatment and rehab is not a quick fix for addiction. Staying sober requires a determined plan of action, including any additional therapy, recovery meetings, and self-actualization and improvement. After rehab the person must learn to adapt to a new lifestyle and dealing with reality without drugs and alcohol. In rehab the therapists and counselors will offer many suggestions on living after treatment, and it is up to the client to do the things required to stay sober.


Originally Posted 


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