Does Drug Rehabilitation Actually Work?

Updated on May 5, 2022

If you feel like you’re struggling to control your use of a certain drug, the thought of seeking professional help may have crossed your mind. But as you contemplate checking yourself into a rehabilitation facility, you may be held back by doubts about their effectiveness.

You may know a drug abuse patient who tried to get help from rehab but ended up relapsing. However, there are many scenarios in which people who were initially unable to function without drugs recover completely to become meaningful contributors to their families and communities.

The success of drug rehabilitation depends on a number of factors ranging from the quality of care patients receive and the nature of the drug problem. Other factors that determine the outcome of treatment include:

  • Commitment – A large percentage of the success of a drug abuse patient’s recovery will lie in their intent on returning to full health. Even the most elaborate treatment facilities will be rendered ineffective if the patient doesn’t put in the work required to get clean.
  • Quality of aftercare – Drug addiction is a chronic disease, much like diabetes or cancer. This means that even after a sustained treatment period, the patient could relapse into drug use. Therefore, it is important to have a plan for sustained management of the condition after the treatment period at the rehabilitation center elapses.
  • After relapse – A patient relapsing should not mean that treatment failed. After all, cancer treatment is declared successful even if symptoms recur afterward. When \ relapse happens, the doctor reexamines the patient and prescribes a new course of treatment to restore the patient’s health. This is how addiction relapses should be viewed.

What drug rehabilitation really entails

Drug abuse rehabilitation aims not just to get the patient to stop using the substance they’re addicted to. An effective rehabilitation program will focus on disrupting the harmful effects of the substance on the user’s brain and empower them to take control of their lives.

Treatment should lead to the drug user embracing a lifestyle of sobriety and begin engaging in meaningful social and economic activity. Another key component of drug rehabilitation is helping the drug user reintegrate back into their family and society.

For this to happen, treatment cannot be a one-size-fits-all affair. A patient’s treatment regime should be tailored according to the extent of his illness. It should also be targeted not just to combat the use of the substance but also to restore the patient’s emotional well-being.

There are two fundamental pillars of any rehabilitation regime a detox rehab in Massachusetts will emphasize. The first is a sustained medical regime that systematically reduces the drug use disorder sufferer’s dependence on the substance. The treatment will also help the patient overcome the withdrawal symptoms that arise as the body adjusts to life without the drug.

Common physical withdrawal symptoms include fever, headaches, vomiting, body aches, and heart palpitations. Some psychological side effects that can arise are anxiety, depression, and hallucinations. Treatment will reduce the intensity of these symptoms as well as monitor the patient day and night to ensure they don’t succumb to cravings for the drug.

The second aspect of treatment entails therapy sessions where the patient receives guidance on how to avoid relapsing. These will include both group sessions and individual sessions to prepare the patient for life after they leave the treatment center. 

One-on-one counseling will help patients work through their personality, behavioral, and relational challenges that lead to drug dependency. The counselor will be instrumental in developing a customized aftercare plan for the patient.

Why aftercare should be taken seriously

The in-center treatment cycle for drug addiction usually lasts no longer than a month. After this period, the patient will leave the rehabilitation clinic to face the world. This is a delicate time in the rehabilitation process as the drug use disorder patient will be exposed to the triggers that may have led to addiction.

Therefore, they should be equipped with the tools to cope with life in the real world while maintaining their sobriety. In addition to those tools, the patient will need to be received in an environment where they feel safe and loved. A strong support system at home will go a long way. Another crucial component of aftercare is getting the patient engaged in a rewarding activity.

A Marathon, Not a Sprint

Drug addiction is a chronic disease that, like diabetes or cancer, will need to be managed throughout the patient’s life. Even with the most effective treatment regimes, patients are prone to relapse. This doesn’t mean that drug rehabilitation doesn’t work. It simply means that something in the treatment needs to be adjusted to restore the patient’s health.

Throughout the year, our writers feature fresh, in-depth, and relevant information for our audience of 40,000+ healthcare leaders and professionals. As a healthcare business publication, we cover and cherish our relationship with the entire health care industry including administrators, nurses, physicians, physical therapists, pharmacists, and more. We cover a broad spectrum from hospitals to medical offices to outpatient services to eye surgery centers to university settings. We focus on rehabilitation, nursing homes, home care, hospice as well as men’s health, women’s heath, and pediatrics.