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  • pbvogler

Rehab is for quitters! Will it work for me?

Updated: Apr 2

No, not everyone who goes into rehab will come out and never relapse. To say that this is not true is to say that the moon is made of cheese. It is an uncomfortable fact but a harsh reality. A rehab centre, while sheer hard work for anyone who goes into them, is a contained, structured environment with staff on site 24/7. While they are not mental health hospitals or locked units, they provide a environment of calmness as opposed to the madness of addiction.


A lot of the staff who work in rehab centres have been there themselves. This is known as being "in recovery." They have lived experience though there needs to be a gap between their own trajectory into recovery and working with others at the start of abstinence. This lived experience gives these staff a real insight into the difficulties faced by clients going into treatment. Clearly, every client has different problems and faces different repercussions from their addiction.


There are those who will seek treatment because they are caught up in the ravages of acute use and those who are abstinent but fear a relapse: it matters not. All that matters is that someone seeks help and makes an appropriate, informed choice as to where they get help. That could be at a centre that uses a 12 step approach, a SMART approach or a eclectic mix. Again, it really doesn't matter: As long as the person seeking help feels the environment is the right one. After all, for the whole time that the person is in treatment they will be abstinent. Whatever else happens, that, in itself, is a very powerful tool in the recovery toolbox. In laypersons term: A clear head. Even those clients who are seeking treatment for gambling/porn/sex addiction benefit from an environment of abstinence.


Clearly, and to some degree it is the same for people in the armed services and prison, the environment in rehab is structured and, while clients need to work hard in groups (and there is often preparatory work needed in the evenings) meals are prepared, medication times are adhered to and there are staff around in case someone feels desperate or in crisis. The real hard work begins when someone leaves rehab. However brilliant rehab centre staff are, what they can never control is the environment a client returns to.


Often I will get asked about rehabs in far flung warmer climbs which, while available, is not, necessarily, the greatest idea. It is somewhat akin to going oh holiday and the slump people feel on returning. In short: reality bites. This is where the mental toolkit that clients build up in treatment comes into play. As above, whether it is a 12 step approach and the client links in with a 12 step group after treatment, or continues with SMART meetings: It really is not important. Perhaps the client links in with support from a local statutory drug and alcohol service or even a specialist drug and alcohol therapist/counsellor.


There are those who, unfortunately, need to go into treatment multiple times, just as there are those who go once and maintain abstinence for the rest of their lives. An emerging area of research is how the brain recovers from addiction. While this is a new area of research,.



How the brain recovers from addiction is an exciting and emerging area of research. Studies are beginning to look at brain imaging and the differences between those using and those who are abstinent. There are some encouraging findings that now suggest that, fourteen months of abstinence can lead to a return of normal brain function. https://www.recoveryanswers.org/recovery-101/brain-in-recovery/





An estimated 69% of individuals are still sober 6 months later, and a little more than 70% are still sober 9 months after leaving a rehab facility, with up to 89% of those who complete alcohol rehab remaining abstinent one month after discharge. This, unfortunately, drops to 76% after three months. This drops, again, at the six month point to 69% and remains the same until 9 months post treatment.

For drug use, the abstinence rate can be as high as 85--95% nine months after treatment. For opioids, the results are not so encouraging at 41% however, they are considerably higher for those who had treatment for both drugs and alcohol at 68% remaining abstinent.

One of the most interesting findings of the study was that those who stay in treatment for more than 28 days are up to five times more likely to remain abstinent. The study also looked at those engaging in aftercare and found that those who continued with 12 step meetings, post rehab, up to 80% (for alcohol clients) remain sober a year later. The most encouraging figure was that 67% of those who attended 12 step meetings for twenty seven weeks after treatment remained abstinent for sixteen years after treatment. This is opposed to only thirty four percent who did not attend meetings.



So, the point is this: Going into rehab may save your life and continuing the work after you leave may not only keep you alive but seriously improve your health, wealth and well being!


  • Approximately 85-95% of people who successfully complete drug rehab report that they are still abstinent from drugs nine months later.

  • About 80% of people report having an improved quality of life after completing a drug and alcohol rehabilitation program.

  • 41% of people who receive medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for opioid detox successfully complete treatment and achieve abstinence.

  • About 68% of people who go through medically supervised detoxification for drugs and alcohol have a successful rehabilitation experience.

  • 90% of people using heroin who received medically assisted treatment were able to significantly decrease their heroin usage.

  • Research shows that a year after treatment, 25% of people were able to maintain their sobriety. The remainder of people receiving addiction treatment reduced their overall alcohol use by 87% and were able to remain sober 75% of the time.

  • People who receive medication-assisted treatment for 3 years or longer have a lower relapse rate than those participating in MAT for less than 3 years.

  • A study found that 33% of people addicted to meth who attended residential rehab remained sober 3 months after treatment. 14% of individuals remained sober 1 year after treatment.

  • One study found that people who attend 12-step meetings were able to spend 80% of their days sober 1 year after treatment, while 19% of people did not drink at all.

  • 67% of people who attended 27 weeks of AA meetings were sober 16 years later while only 34% of people who did not attend AA meetings were sobe

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