How effective is drug addiction treatment?

In addition to stopping drug abuse, the goal of treatment is to return people to productive functioning in the family, workplace, and community. According to research that keeps a record of individuals in treatment over extended periods, most people who get into and remain in treatment stop using drugs, decrease their criminal activity and improve their occupational, social, and psychological functioning.

Individual treatment results depend on the extent and nature of the patient’s problems, the suitability of treatment and related services used to address those problems, and the quality of interaction between the patient and his or her treatment providers.

Like other chronic diseases, addiction can be managed successfully. Treatment enables people to fight addiction’s powerful disruptive effects on the brain and behavior and to retake control of their lives. The chronic nature of the disease means that relapsing to drug abuse is not only possible but also likely, with relapse rates similar to those for other well-characterized chronic medical illnesses—such as diabetes, hypertension, and asthma that also have both physiological and behavioral components.
Unfortunately, when relapse occurs many believe the treatment to be a failure. This is not the case: successful treatment for addiction typically requires a continual evaluation and changes as appropriate, similar to the approach taken for other chronic and long-term diseases. For the addicted patient, lapses to drug abuse do not show failure—rather, they mean that treatment needs to be reinstated or adjusted, or that a different treatment is needed.

What if my son wants to move back home after the 100 days of residential treatment? Should I allow him to move back home?

No. It is very important to have a step-down program after residential treatment and is imperative for long-term sobriety. Clients who live with active addiction forget what it is like to live without drugs and alcohol. Willing Ways strongly encourages clients and family members to trust in the clinical team’s recommendations for treatment and discharge planning.

What happens after the 100 days?

Part of the process is a discharge plan. A team of people will be involved, helping make sure that the client has all the tools and resources he or she needs before being discharged.

Is drug addiction treatment worth its cost?

Yes. It is cost effective. Treatment can help reduce the costs of drug addiction. Drug addiction treatment has been shown to reduce associated health and social costs by far more than the cost of the treatment itself. Treatment is also much less expensive than its alternatives, such as imprisoning addicted persons.

How long does drug addiction treatment usually last?

Individuals progress through drug addiction treatment at different rates, so there is no prearranged length of treatment. However, research has shown clearly that good results are dependent on adequate treatment length. Generally, for indoor or outpatient treatment, involvement for less than 100 days is of limited effectiveness, and treatment lasting significantly longer is recommended for maintaining positive results.

Treatment dropout is one of the major problems faced by treatment programs; therefore, motivational techniques that can keep patients involved will also improve results. By viewing addiction as a chronic disease and offering continuing care and monitoring, programs can be successful, but this will often require multiple episodes of treatment and readily re-admitting patients that have relapsed.

Is an individual at risk of losing his or her job if they seek treatment?

The biggest risk of job loss is continuing to use. During treatment, we are able to advocate and support the individual in returning to the workplace, usually with good results.

How do I say no to my loved one?

An effective answer to give your loved one is “I will support your recovery, but I will not support your disease.”

What helps people stay in treatment?

Because successful outcomes often depend on a person’s staying in treatment long enough to get their full benefits, strategies for keeping people in treatment are crucial. Whether a patient stays in treatment depends on factors associated with both the individual and the program. Individual factors related to engagement and retention typically include motivation to change drug-using behavior; the degree of support from family and friends; and, frequently, pressure from the criminal justice system, child protection services, employers, or the family.

Within a treatment program, successful clinicians can establish a positive, therapeutic relationship with their patients. The clinician should ensure that a treatment plan is developed cooperatively with the person seeking treatment that the plan is followed, and that treatment expectation is clearly understood. Medical, psychiatric, and social services should also be available. Whether a patient stays in treatment depends on factors associated with both the individual and the program.

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