What Is The Success Rate Of Drug Rehab?

Searching for Drug Rehab can be difficult. Lots of questions arise: what is the success rate of drug rehab? How do I tell which rehab is good? Do I even need alcohol and drug rehab?

You may have seen rehabs portrayed in a certain way in movies or the T.V. and many people think that they are walking into an “insane asylum”. Thankfully it’s not like this, however drug rehab can be a terrifying prospect for someone who has never been in that type of situation before because they are walking into the unexpected.

Since drug addiction can take over your life and alter your personality, pushing you to do things you normally wouldn’t do, such as steal from others or lie to the people around you which results in feelings of shame and regret, engaging in treatment that looks beyond just the addiction is essential.

All of this needs to be taken into account because drug rehab is not just about kicking the addiction, it’s more than that. Drug rehab is about getting back your life and learning to deal with things in a positive manner. Rehab will teach you how to do this, but how does that tie into success rates? How do rehabs measure the success of your life improvement? Is there any point of rehabs measuring your drug use frequency if your life doesn’t get better? 

We will answer these questions plus more in this article.

What makes treatment effective?

In a podcast that our founder Jack Nagle hosted with Professor Steve Allsop on the Real Drug Talk Podcast, Prof. Steve Allsop sums a critical recovery point up extremely well with a story he used when teaching clients.

Professor Steve Allsop said, “I would ask my students, why do people stop using drugs?”. Students would answer with responses such as: gaining employment, better connection with friends, a new relationship with a spouse, wanting to be healthier etc. Do you know what, out of the 20+ years that I taught that subject, not one person said treatment...”.

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So, do we place too much emphasis on treatment?

A review published on Pubmed National Library of Medicine found the following:

“A quantitative review of the substance abuse literature revealed a mean general prevalence of spontaneous remission from alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs abuse of 26.2% when a broad definition of remission was employed and 18.2% when a narrow definition was implemented. From the results of this review, it was concluded that few meaningful differences exist between spontaneous remitters and persons who either continue misusing substances or remit through treatment on pre-remission measures of prior drug involvement. Of the factors cited by self-remitters as important in facilitating their desistance from substances, the present review found that health concerns, pressure from friends and family, and extraordinary events were instrumental in initiating spontaneous remission, while social support, non-drug-using friendships, willpower, and identity transformation were pivotal in maintaining change. Evidence is presented to indicate that spontaneous remission from alcohol and illicit drugs and spontaneous remission from tobacco smoking may differ in several key respects.” (View full review here: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10976668/).

This is not to say that interventions, addiction treatment and rehab are not important, however, it does demonstrate that there needs to be significant focus put into people’s social determinants of health, family connection and connection with the overall community to facilitate long term success.

This is again why residential rehab is not always the best focus when it comes to an individual recovery journey.


How do rehabs measure success?

Recently we created an article titled: Drug Rehab in Australia – The Ultimate Guide. If you are looking for a detailed explanation of how success rates are measured in the alcohol and drug sector, we would recommend that you check this article out.

The truth is there are many considerations and factors in why certain success rates are measured and why others are not measured in the alcohol and drug sector. Instead of unpacking all the information, we thought that we would focus on what we believe constitutes success and what we at Connection Based Living measure.

At Connection Based Living we fundamentally agree with Professor Steve Allsops notion that if you help someone to improve their overall life, then the chances are that their harmful substance use patterns are probably going to get better also.

Because of this, we are really focused on Quality of Life outcomes and we measure these using 3 main clinically validated tools:

ASSIST: The ASSIST screens for risky use of all main substance types (tobacco, alcohol, cannabis, cocaine, amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS), sedatives, hallucinogens, inhalants, opioids and ‘other drugs’) and determines a risk score for each substance.

WHOQOL-BREF – The WHOQOL-BREF contains a total of 26 questions. The tool is designed to ask a series of questions that help to determine a person’s all-round quality of life.

K10 – The Kessler Psychological Distress Scale (K10) is a psychological screening tool designed to identify adults with significant levels of psychological distress. It is widely used in Australia and often used in primary care settings to identify people with clinically significant psychological distress.

We take these measurements pre and post someone enrolling in our coaching programs, and then we do a follow up over 6 and 12 months because we care about people achieving long term results.

If you are looking at addiction treatment options, we highly suggest you look to ask if the organisation measures outcomes along with what tools they use to measure these outcomes.

Do I need drug rehab?

This is the question we find more and more people asking. Ultimately, you have to weigh up your options and decide.

We think that some form of formal treatment is always beneficial and will increase your chances of success, however, perhaps there is a different way of approaching the situation without booking straight into long-term residential rehab.

Maybe you could do a short stay at a detox facility (usually 7-14 days) then engage in an outpatient coaching program like Connection Based Living. Or maybe you need to work with a counsellor to reduce your substance use levels and make some serious changes to your friendship network so that you have more supportive and positive influences around you.

Fundamentally you have to ask yourself, what does success look like to me? Because really – what’s the point of being sober however not having any happiness and quality of life to go with it?