Does Rehab Work?

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For most people with a substance use disorder, rehab does work, and can be the catalyst for a long-term recovery for drug and alcohol addiction. However, “Does rehab work?” is a nuanced question to which there is no universal answer. It’s a common misconception that rehab success is solely defined by abstinence from drugs and alcohol. In reality, rehab effectiveness encompasses much more than that.

Addiction is a chronic and relapsing brain condition that requires ongoing management and care. While getting sober is a critical step, it is the first step in a lifelong process and not the ultimate goal. True success in rehab is measured by marked improvements in many areas of life. For instance, success could mean restoring relationships with loved ones, achieving financial stability, or finding meaningful employment. It could mean developing healthy coping mechanisms, building a robust sober support network, or improving your overall physical and mental health.

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In many ways, rehab success is about reclaiming control over your life and finding or rediscovering a sense of purpose and fulfillment. The recovery journey requires patience, dedication, and resilience. Setbacks are a normal part of the recovery process, and they don’t diminish the progress made so far – up to 60% of those in recovery will relapse at least once.

Is rehab effective, then? This guide explores this issue and also addresses the following questions:

  • What does rehab do?
  • Does drug rehab work?
  • Does alcohol rehab work?
  • Does rehab work for addicts?
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How Does Rehab Help with Addiction?

Addiction is a chronic brain disorder that affects over 40 million U.S. adults. It can cause significant damage to a person’s physical and mental health, as well as their relationships, career, and finances. That said, rehab offers hope to those struggling with addiction.

  • Rehab programs offer a safe and supportive environment: One of the most significant advantages of rehab is that a treatment center offers a safe and supportive environment for those struggling with drug addiction, alcoholism, or mental health disorders. This environment is vital because addiction often thrives in isolation, and being surrounded by others who understand what you’re going through can be incredibly beneficial.
  • Rehab centers offer professional clinical care: The success rate of rehab also hinges on the professional medical care delivered. Detoxification is often the first step in the recovery process, and detox can be physically and mentally challenging. Rehab centers have medical professionals who can provide clinical care, medication-assisted treatment, and therapy to help individuals manage withdrawal symptoms and prevent relapse.
  • Rehabs provide access to a range of therapies: Rehab centers offer a range of therapies to help individuals overcome addiction. These therapies include CBT (cognitive-behavioral therapy), DBT (dialectical behavior therapy), motivational interviewing, and family therapy, among others. These therapies can help individuals identify the root causes of their addiction, learn coping skills, and develop healthy habits to prevent relapse.
  • Drug and alcohol rehabs provide a sense of community for those in recovery from addiction: Addiction can be incredibly isolating, and those battling substance use disorder often feel alone and disconnected. Rehab centers offer a community of individuals who are going through similar experiences, and this can help individuals feel supported and understood.

How Does Rehab Help?

According to a report by the Office of National Drug Control Policy that outlines what constitutes successful rehab outcomes. Listed positive effects upon discharge include:

  • Reduced drug and alcohol use: Reduced substance use is a crucial aspect of determining the success rate for addiction recovery. Ideally, clients should be able to abstain from using drugs and alcohol entirely or at least reduce their substance use to a manageable level.
  • Improved employability: The goal of rehab is not only to help individuals overcome addiction but also to improve their overall quality of life. This includes enhancing their employability by increasing the number of days they spend working or in school.
  • Enriched interpersonal relationships: Addiction can cause significant damage to personal relationships, and rehab aims to repair and improve them. Family therapy can be an effective way of beginning this process. Successful rehab outcomes should include clients experiencing improved relationships with their loved ones and a stronger support network.
  • Superior mental health: Addiction often co-occurs with mental health issues like depression, anxiety, and trauma. Successful rehab outcomes should include clients experiencing improved mental health and a better ability to manage any underlying mental health conditions.
  • Reduced criminal activity: Substance abuse often leads to criminal activity – drug possession or theft, for example. Positive rehab outcomes should include clients experiencing a reduction in criminal activity.

Addiction is a highly personal journey, and not everyone may experience these outcomes immediately upon discharge. Some people may need to stay in treatment longer, receive care in another facility, or explore other forms of substance abuse treatment to achieve successful outcomes.

How Does Inpatient Rehab Work?

If you or a loved one is fighting addiction to alcohol, drugs, or prescription medications, inpatient rehab may be a viable treatment option. Inpatient rehab, also known as residential rehab, involves living at a treatment center while receiving around-the-clock care and support. How do rehab facilities work, then?

  • Assessment: The first step of inpatient rehab is a comprehensive assessment of the individual’s physical and mental health, as well as their substance use history. This helps the treatment team develop a personalized treatment plan that meets the person’s unique needs.
  • Detoxification: For those who are physically dependent on drugs or alcohol, the next step is detoxification. This process involves eliminating toxins from the body while managing any withdrawal symptoms that present. Inpatient rehab provides a safe and supportive environment for individuals to detox.
  • Therapy: Once detox is complete, clients begin participating in individual and group therapy sessions. These therapy sessions are designed to help people in recovery identify the underlying causes of their addiction, develop healthy coping mechanisms, and build a support network. The therapy sessions are conducted by licensed therapists who are experienced in addiction treatment.
  • Medication: In some cases, medications may be used to manage withdrawal symptoms or treat co-occurring mental health conditions. Inpatient rehab facilities have medical staff on hand to monitor medication use and adjust dosages as necessary. Both opioid addiction and alcoholism respond well to MAT (medication-assisted treatment) with FDA-approved medications.
  • Aftercare planning: As the end of inpatient rehab approaches, the treatment team works with the individual to develop an aftercare plan. This may include continuing outpatient therapy, attending support group meetings, or transitioning to a sober living facility.

Addiction Treatment Success Rates

When it comes to addiction treatment success rates, the picture can be complex and nuanced. While it’s hard to pinpoint a specific rate of success across all types of addiction treatment, studies show that certain approaches can be effective for different addictions.

For instance, the length of treatment often plays a critical role. People who receive medication-assisted treatment for less than 90 days do not show improved outcomes. Those who engage with MAT for three years or longer also have lower relapse rates than those on MAT for under three years. Time spent in treatment is strongly related to improved outcomes.

According to NIDA, most people with diagnosable addictions require at least 90 days of treatment to initiate a successful recovery.

The required level of care may vary from person to person. Someone with a mild addiction may not require inpatient services, so they might begin with an intensive outpatient program instead. While detox addresses the issue of physical dependence, ongoing treatment is necessary to tackle the underlying factors that trigger substance abuse. Detox alone with no ongoing support leads to greater risks of relapse.

Studies indicate that medication-assisted treatment is especially effective for opioid addiction. Medications like buprenorphine, methadone, and naltrexone can prevent cravings and relapse.

For those struggling with alcohol addiction, studies show that one in four of those who engage in treatment remain sober one year later. Many of the others dramatically moderated their use of alcohol after rehab.

Many people with alcohol addictions also use 12-step support programs like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) for support. Research has shown that those who attend 12-step meetings are more likely to stay sober and have improved success rates over those who did not engage with peer support groups. 

While there are no medications approved by the FDA to treat cocaine addiction, statistics on drug rehab success indicate that behavioral therapies like contingency management and CBT (cognitive-behavioral therapy) are associated with improved success rates.

There are no approved medications to treat meth addiction either, and detox alone is not effective. Research suggests that the Matrix Model may be the most effective treatment for meth addiction.

How Effective Is Rehab?

Addiction is clinically described as substance use disorder, a chronic and relapsing condition that affects the brain. Similar to other chronic diseases like diabetes and hypertension, addiction requires ongoing treatment and management. Unlike other diseases, addiction is not easily quantified, and it can be difficult to measure progress. 

There is no universally accepted standard for measuring treatment effectiveness, so each rehab center may define success differently. For example, a patient may no longer be using substances, but they may still display negative behaviors and thought patterns after treatment. This means that it’s crucial to find a credible and trusted facility that takes a holistic approach to treatment.

 A comprehensive addiction treatment program should include a personalized treatment plan that addresses the individual’s physical, emotional, and mental health needs. The treatment plan should involve evidence-based therapies, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, group therapy, family therapy, and individual counseling to help the person in recovery develop coping mechanisms and address underlying issues that contribute to their addiction.

In addition to therapy, MAT (medication-assisted treatment) may be used to manage withdrawal symptoms and cravings. MAT involves using FDA-approved medications like Naltrexone in combination with therapy to treat opioid addiction or alcoholism.

To achieve long-term success in addiction recovery, it is crucial to address the underlying issues that contribute to addiction and develop healthy coping mechanisms. A trusted rehab center that offers evidence-based treatment and individualized care can help individuals overcome addiction and lead a fulfilling life in recovery. We can help you shortcut the process at California Detox in Southern California. 

Does Rehab Actually Work?

The short answer is yes, rehab can be an effective way to overcome addiction and achieve long-term recovery, both for those who engage with recovery willingly and those who begin their recovery through drug rehab work programs.

Research shows that addiction treatment can be beneficial for individuals struggling with substance use disorders, often leading to reduced substance use and improved mental health outcomes.

That said, not all addiction treatment programs are equal. For rehab to be effective, it should include evidence-based treatments that are tailored to the individual’s specific needs. Treatment should address the physical, emotional, and mental aspects of addiction and provide ongoing support throughout the recovery journey.

Beyond this, addiction is a chronic, relapsing condition, and recovery is an ongoing process. It’s not uncommon for individuals to experience setbacks or relapses, but with the proper support and tools, they can get back on track and continue to make progress in their recovery. 

Ultimately, the success of rehab depends on the individual’s willingness to engage in the treatment process and make positive changes in their life. With the right mindset, support, and resources, rehab can be a valuable tool in overcoming addiction and achieving a fulfilling life in recovery.

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Get Rehab For Addiction Recovery at California Detox

California Detox in Laguna Beach provides a range of treatment programs for individuals struggling with physical dependence or addiction to prescription medications, alcohol, or illicit drugs. We offer a supervised medical detox program that offers access to medications to help ease withdrawal symptoms and cravings, providing a smooth transition into one of our other treatment programs.

Our inpatient treatment programs, PHPs (partial hospitalization programs), IOPs (intensive outpatient programs), and dual diagnosis treatment programs are all designed to provide comprehensive, evidence-based interventions and holistic therapies. At California Detox in Southern California, we believe in treating the whole person and offer a range of holistic therapies alongside traditional counseling and psychotherapy, including family therapy and medication-assisted treatment.

 Upon completing our treatment programs, we work with our clients to create a personalized aftercare plan to prevent relapse and ensure continued success in recovery. Our admissions team is available at 949.694.8305 to provide immediate assistance and help you take the first step towards a healthier, happier life. 


Do treatment centers work depends on the substance, the type of treatments used, and individual circumstances surrounding each patient, making it difficult to provide a definitive percentage of rehab success. However, certain approaches have shown to be effective for different addictions, as outlined above.
The most difficult part of the rehab process varies from person to person, but common challenges include facing and addressing the root causes of addiction, adjusting to a new lifestyle without substance use, and coping with triggers and cravings.


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