If you are addicted to a certain substance, drug addiction treatment is the most effective way to recover. There are many kinds of treatments available, and research has shown that they are generally effective in helping addicted people live sober lives again.
Drug addiction treatment is now a critical component of public health. Statistics from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) show that there were almost 20 million Americans at least 12 years of age afflicted with drug addiction.
To add to that, drug addiction costs an estimated 740 billion dollars to the US economy every year.
Curious about how the effectiveness of drug addiction treatment is measured? Read on to find out more.
How would I know if my treatment was successful?
Commonly, you would think that a successful drug addiction treatment will help you stop taking drugs for good. While it’s true that eliminating drug use is one of the essential goals of treatment, it’s not the only one.
Effective treatments also enhance your overall quality of life. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), a treatment is successful if it lets you achieve three things:
- Become a productive member of your family
- Contribute within the workplace
- Participate positively in society as a whole
After your treatment program is done, if you are able to achieve those things, you can consider the treatment effective.
Other measures of success of treatment include:
- Less involvement in criminal activity
- Fewer incidences of physical violence
- Exhibiting fewer risky behaviors
- Picking up new hobbies or returning to old hobbies
- Spending more time with people who do not use drugs
What contributes to the effectiveness of drug addiction treatment?
Success of a treatment program depends on everyone concerned — doctors, therapists, and you, the patient. Medical and mental health professionals can only do so much; if you are not committed yourself to recovery, the treatment will have a much lesser chance of succeeding.
One thing that makes treatments effective is the quality of interactions between you and your therapists. Behavioral therapies common in addiction treatments often involve conversations. Your therapist will ask you about past behaviors, family background, situations at work, and others that will help him find out what caused you to abuse drugs.
If you answer your therapist’s questions as honestly and as detailed as you can, he can better tailor the therapy for your case. Openness and building good rapport with your therapist is key. When you trust each other, you can work together effectively to bring about your recovery.
Behavioral therapies are improved when combined with appropriate medications. For example, if you are addicted to opioids, a doctor may prescribe methadone to you. This medication works well to counteract the ill effects of opioid abuse. When you take methadone alongside behavioral therapy, your recovery outcomes are much better.
Treatment outcomes improve greatly when you are focused on your therapies. This is why inpatient rehab programs are generally more successful than outpatient ones. If you’re enrolled in an inpatient treatment program, you will stay inside a rehab facility for up to three months, depending on your case. During this time, your only focus would be attending therapy sessions, building healthy habits, and gaining new ways to cope with challenges in life.
However, this is not to say that outpatient treatment is ineffective. Outpatient rehab works well especially for mild cases of drug addiction.
Also, outpatient rehab is used as an add-on therapy for some patients after they have finished their inpatient program. This ensures that they stay sober for a longer time.
If I relapse, does that mean my treatment has failed?
Contrary to what most people think, relapse is actually a normal part of addiction recovery. Similar to chronic illnesses like hypertension, diabetes, and cancer, it’s possible for addiction to show up again. But that does not mean treatment has failed.
If your addiction relapses, that can mean your treatment needs adjustment. Also, it can be a sign of a lack of compliance to therapies. But in most cases, relapse is not something that should make you lose hope.
In fact, relapse rates for drug addiction are comparable to those for hypertension and diabetes. As much as 60 percent of addiction patients relapse after their treatments. Research has also shown that more than two-thirds of patients in recovery experience relapse within the first few weeks or months of going through treatment.
Thus, another important component of a successful drug addiction therapy is a relapse prevention plan. Without it, your chances of a successful recovery are lower.
Relapse is not an overnight thing, nor is it triggered by one event alone. Instead, it’s a process much like a line of dominoes. If one falls, it will cause the domino beside it to fall, and so on, until all the dominoes have fallen.
In other words, relapse is a series of events that culminate in the return to drug use. It could be unwittingly putting yourself in the company of people who are drug users. Then, you might think that you’re in full control, and that you won’t take drugs ever again. You could even be in denial of your drug problem.
Each of these are like dominoes standing next to each other. When one topples, all the others fall afterwards, leading you to relapse.
What will I do if I relapse?
While it may feel like you failed in your recovery, relapse is actually a normal part of the process. If you experience a relapse, ask for professional help right away. Don’t dwell on the idea that “I’ve failed”, otherwise it will make the relapse worse. Entertaining negative thoughts will most likely lead you right back to drug abuse.
Instead, seek out addiction recovery professionals who can help you with evidence-based therapies. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is one of them, and this is shown to be a highly effective behavioral therapy for addiction recovery.
You may also join a 12-step group like Narcotics Anonymous (NA), which is a community of people who are also recovering from drug abuse. There, you can share your stories with each other and help with each other’s recovery journey.