The Best Ways to Find Success In Addiction Treatment


Addiction treatment is a broad term, and there isn’t a standard definition of what treatment or rehab is. There can also be different metrics to measure success in addiction treatment.

The biggest priority to increase addiction treatment success chances is finding an evidence-based program with individualized care. When looking at the quality of care at a rehab center, you want to think about how well the center manages the formal treatment period and aftercare, according to the Mental Health Services Administration. 

Once you select an evidence-based treatment program that treats you as an individual, then you can focus on steps you can personally take to improve your chances of success.


The Goals of Addiction Treatment

When exploring success in addiction treatment, the National Institute on Drug Abuse highlights the following: 

  • The primary goal of any form of treatment, along with helping people stop using drugs or alcohol, is to give them the tools to return to functioning productively in their families, workplaces, and communities.
  • Treatment for drug or alcohol addiction should help someone reduce criminal activity and improve psychological and social functioning.
  • Individual treatment outcomes do vary depending on the severity of the substance use disorder.
  • Addiction is a chronic disease that you can successfully manage with cognitive behavioral therapy and medication-assisted treatment.
  • With alcohol or drug addiction treatment, you can learn to combat the disruptive effects of addiction on your brain and behavior and regain control of your life.
  • However, since addiction is a chronic disorder, relapse is possible at any period. Just because someone relapses, it doesn’t mean treatment is a failure.
  • Long-term recovery may initially require treatment for any underlying medical condition you have, physically or mentally. 
  • The most successful treatment plans will integrate continual modifications and evaluations as needed. A relapse might not indicate treatment was a failure. Instead, it could mean treatment requires adjustment or a change in treatment would be beneficial.


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How Is Success In Addiction Treatment Measured?

So, how is success in drug rehab success rates is measured? The answer is that it depends on both the person and the treatment center.

We don’t like to see relapse rates used as a metric of success for the reasons named above. Addiction is a chronic disease, and the recovery journey is a process. We don’t see relapse as a treatment failure or a personal failure for people in recovery. We see relapse as something indicating the need for treatment changes.

There’s another issue with using a metric like one-year sobriety to measure success in addiction treatment. If you’re talking to a rehab center and they tell you 98% of their patients are sober at one year, this is self-reported information. You don’t know how the rehab center is following up and asking questions to reach these numbers, and not all patients will view their behaviors as a relapse.

With chronic illness treatment, traditionally, your performance is measured while you’re in active treatment. For example, with diabetes, you may take medication to control your blood sugar.  If you were to go off your treatment and then your symptoms return or worsen, we would never say it was because your treatment didn’t work. In reality, we would say that shows the effectiveness of treatment because the medication was helping you manage your condition, and going off, it contributed to your symptoms.

If you don’t receive an aftercare plan following a residential program or aren’t following it, and you relapse, then it’s not a treatment failure. You stopped treatment for your drug use disorder at that point.

None of this means that to be successful, you have to stay in rehab forever. Instead, you should leave rehab with a concrete plan of how your treatment will continue as you return to your daily life, which can be different for everyone. Maybe your plan includes regular outpatient treatment or a lower level of care. You might do monthly check-ins with your treatment provider or participate in a 12-step program.

Along with abstinence, we can also look at the quality of life factors when determining success rates for substance use disorder treatment. For example, are you rebuilding your relationships, participating in family therapy, and working on your career? If so, these are things showing success in addiction treatment.

Other quality of life indicators that can be useful to measure a successful recovery include:

  • Being proactive in taking care of your mental health issues 
  • Using coping mechanisms that aren’t substances
  • Feeling emotionally stable
  • Feeling worthwhile
  • Prioritizing your physical health
  • Keeping up your appearance and hygiene
  • Eating and sleeping well
  • Having stable housing
  • Earning a regular income
  • Having a positive daily routine
  • Making it to all of your appointments for medical care and therapy
  • Having hobbies and interests
  • Feeling positive
  • Setting goals for yourself
  • Helping and supporting others


How to Improve Your Success In Addiction Treatment

While a lot of your success in addiction treatment relies on an individualized and evidence-based program, there are certain things you can do while you are in residential treatment to improve outcomes later on. These include:

  • Maintaining an open mind—even if it wasn’t necessarily your choice to go to rehab, you can still make the most of your time there and be receptive. Don’t go into treatment with preconceived ideas of what it will be like, because then you’re limiting your growth.
  • Follow your treatment center’s rules—the rules are there for a reason. They create a safe, supportive environment that’s conducive to recovery. Even if you don’t like to follow the rules, you’ll learn more about managing your behaviors when you do what you’re supposed to.
  • Be honest—you may have been lying to yourself and the people around you for a long time, making honesty a considerable challenge when you’re in rehab. Use your addiction treatment program as the opportunity to get honest with yourself finally so that you can eventually be honest with others. It’s hard to look at ourselves in an honest light sometimes, but necessary for recovery.
  • Take advantage of all the available resources—whatever is at your disposal through your inpatient program or outpatient rehab, use it. Whether it’s support groups, exercise, meditation, contingency management, individual therapy, art therapy, or anything else, give it a try if you have something you can use in rehab that might help you.
  • Think about your future goals—when you’re in rehab; you can begin to think about what you want your future to look like. Based on the goals you set for yourself, you can then start creating coping mechanisms and strategies to get there throughout your recovery process. 

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It’s impossible to answer what success in addiction treatment will look like for every person because we’re all so unique. We do know that when a treatment program is evidence-based and holistic, you’re more likely to thrive when you leave. We also know that aftercare plans are critical for effective treatment and addiction recovery.

Aftercare plans might include 12-step participation such as Alcoholics Anonymous, alumni programs, or connections with community support.

Relapse or days sober aren’t the only metrics for treatment success or failure, nor are they always the best ones when we’re talking about rehab success rates. If you’d like to learn more about evidence-based treatment at Opus Health, please call 855-953-1345 today.

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