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Drug Rehab Success Rates

Upon hearing that someone has completed rehabilitation, many assume they are completely sober. However, there are many more indicators of success in rehabilitation than merely not using substances. Despite popular belief, getting help for an addiction does not guarantee that the person is permanently free of their drug abuse problem. Achieving sobriety and living a happy, healthier lifestyle is the main objective of the long road to recovery, but setbacks are inevitable. Therefore, the absence of drug usage is not a benchmark for success.

What Is Treatment Success?

Addiction therapy that helps involves a personalized approach, regular assessments, and adjustments as needed, all administered by trained medical experts utilizing tried-and-true methods.


While no universally effective therapeutic method exists, patients have the best outcomes when they stick with their prescribed regimen and follow-up services. Scientific research shows that drug usage among ex-offenders may be reduced by as much as 70% if they undergo intensive inpatient substance abuse treatment and receive support after discharge.


However, only around 42% of those who start drug or alcohol rehab reach the end of their program.

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Stats of Success Rates for Common Addictions

  • Cocaine and Crack Addiction


According to the available data, around a quarter of those recovering from a cocaine addiction who participate in a specific recovery program will relapse.


Approved treatment centers use a variety of approaches, including behavioral therapy, individual therapy, and relapse prevention, to combat addiction-related diseases. Conversely, people with a dual diagnosis may find the program less helpful because of the lack of attention paid to their unique mental health needs.

  • Heroin and Opioid Addiction


Detoxification from opioids, medication reconciliation, and therapy are often the components that make up the most effective treatment regimens for opioid addiction. Sadly, just 36% of treatment centers for opioid addiction provide any pharmacological therapy for opioid addiction. On top of that, many services typically only offer the absolute necessities of counseling hours mandated by law.


Consequently, 91% of people who enter heroin rehabilitation and complete an opiate detox program report experiencing a relapse after leaving treatment. Furthermore, relapse occurs in 59% of patients within a week after being discharged from treatment.

  • Alcohol Addiction


The 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous serve as the basis for numerous addiction recovery programs, even some that are not explicitly intended to address alcoholism. 


Although many have succeeded with 12-step programs, some still cannot maintain their recovery. It has been estimated that just 5-10% of people in 12-step groups would be able to recover from their addiction completely, as stated by Dr. Lance Dodes.

Effective alcohol addiction treatment programs address the patient's underlying emotional difficulties and co-occurring mental health disorders via prolonged therapy and counseling.


Also, inpatient programs have better success rates, particularly for patients with co-occurring mental diseases. However, most patients still don't see real improvement after participating in treatment.

Medically Reviewed:


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Expert Contributor

Dr. Williams presently serves on the board of Directors for two non-profit service organizations. He holds a Master’s degree in Human Services from Lincoln University, Philadelphia, Pa, and a Ph.D. with a concentration in Clinical Psychology from Union Institute and University. In Cincinnati, Ohio. He is licensed to practice addictions counseling in both New Jersey and Connecticut and has a pending application as a practicing Psychologist in New Jersey.

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Factors Impacting the Success of Drug Rehab

The success of their rehabilitation seems to be affected by various variables beyond just the duration of therapy. The following are some examples of elements that may have an impact on the outcome of rehabilitation:

1. Age


Rehabilitative success rates are much greater among those below the age of 30 than among those above the age of 30. Quitting drug use is difficult for anybody, but it is more challenging for someone who has been abusing substances for years.

2. Stress levels


Stressful situations often trigger drug abuse. Long-term sobriety is more of an uphill battle for a recovering addict who faces significant stress in the real world after completing treatment.


Attending 12-step programs and connecting with other addicts may be especially helpful for those who have just completed treatment but still face significant stress at home or in the workplace. Maintaining sobriety in the face of adversity is far more manageable with a strong network of people with your back.

3. Multiple Addictions


It's not hard to picture how much more challenging it would be for a patient to overcome addiction if hooked on many substances. To make matters worse, a drug addict who is simultaneously battling alcohol addiction would have to endure the unpleasant symptoms of both withdrawals.


The risk of relapse is increased by several factors, including continuing to smoke cigarettes. We know some of you who smoke tobacco do not wish to read this. Still, current findings that were carried out at Harvard University revealed that giving up smoking may increase the likelihood that you will not relapse into drug use.

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What Does It Mean To Be Successful In Drug Rehab?

One person's idea of drug treatment success may differ from another's. If they haven't healed in other ways, a person doesn't have much chance of staying sober. Rehab for drug abuse often includes instruction on beneficial things to participate in instead of drug usage and coping with stress. Rehab success may be gauged by more than just abstinence from drug or alcohol usage.


  • Power to abstain from relapse.

  • Fitness of mind, body, and soul.

  • Stronger bonds with people.

  • Enhanced efficiency in the workplace or classroom.

  • Higher levels of the social system.

  • Increased contentment and pleasure in living.

  • Non-alcoholic and drug-free activities.


An individual may see their efforts in drug rehab as productive even if they return to drugs after making positive changes to their lifestyle.


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Do Drug Relapses Indicate Failed Treatment?

Relapse occurs in 40-60% of those undergoing drug rehabilitation, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). Addiction is a chronic medical disorder that, like others, needs long-term care, and, in some cases, a return of symptoms occurs even after treatment. However, not all relapses indicate an unsuccessful treatment plan.


Sometimes, a person might make significant strides yet still need more time to recover. Even if they revert, the strategies they learned in treatment help them become sober again. 


According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), overcoming an addiction to drugs is a process that may take years and often involves many rounds of therapy. Therefore, most individuals also need aftercare services after drug rehabilitation. Substance abuse therapy or support groups are standard aftercare since they help the recovering addict stay connected to others who appreciate their journey.

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What does it mean to be successful in drug rehab?
Do drug relapses indicate failed treatment?
Factors impacting the success of drug rehab
What is treatment success?
Stats of success rates for common addictions

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