Drug Rehab Center Success Rates: Why Can't We Find Them?

by | Feb 28, 2019 | Addiction | 0 comments

Finding Drug Rehab Center Success Rates

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No matter how many good reviews a treatment center receives or how passionately they promise to ensure quality care, some people understandably find it hard to trust anything other than hard data. Unfortunately, such people will find it nearly impossible to find accurate drug rehab center success rates. When searching for a quality inpatient drug and alcohol rehab, they feel as if they are going in blind. And to some degree, they are.

Many skeptics believe this happens by design. Take a step back, however, and it becomes evident that the problem extends far beyond rehab facilities themselves. Government health organizations, including those dedicated to monitoring substance abuse statistics, do not track recovery statistics with any real consistency. It falls on independent studies to do the legwork, and these often return conflicting results. Opponents of the treatment industry fund studies demonstrating low success rates. Meanwhile, some treatment facilities cite unsourced or questionably funded studies demonstrating high rates of success.

A few numbers can be found, although not nearly as many as we might prefer. Before looking at these, however, it is worthwhile to discuss just why such numbers are so difficult to locate in the first place.

This article is part of a larger informational series on drug and alcohol rehab.

Why Are Rehab Success Rates So Hard to Find?

Three core issues lie at the heart of why it proves so difficult to track down drug rehab center success rates. First, relatively few people who suffer from substance use disorders receive the treatment they need. Second, those who receive treatment experience success in varying degrees. Third, the most authoritative sources on drug and alcohol rehab statistics do not include detailed figures on recovery.

Issue #1: Few Substance Users Receive Treatment

In many ways, the first issue informs the third. According to the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, only about 10.6% of disordered substance users received treatment prior to answering the survey. With so few addicts and alcoholics receiving treatment, the numbers available to the NSDUH provide a strong representation of the problem rather than the solution. This problem becomes even larger when considering that less than 7% of those diagnosed with co-occurring disorders received dual diagnosis care. The NSDUH cannot track success when few are receiving the services needed to achieve it.

Issue #2: Varying Definitions of Success

amethyst recovery

Relapse is not always failure. Sometimes, relapse and recovery act as part of the same mechanism.

The second issue also informs the third. Detailed success rates would require either a firm definition of success or an analysis of success by all available definitions. They would need to look at how many treatment patients were able to accumulate various lengths of sobriety without relapsing. In the case of relapse, they would need to assess how many were able to continue their sobriety without further treatment.

Even then, returning to treatment would not necessarily constitute failure. If the client still learned something about recovery and implemented this knowledge on their next go-around, some would consider the first treatment successful. Others would not.

As we add to this endless array of what may or may not constitute success, we burden statisticians and survey-takers with an almost Sisyphean task. Tracking success in all of its forms rather than choosing one particular definition would require tracking everyone who underwent treatment for years to determine the shape their recovery took following treatment. On the other hand, choosing a single definition would require labeling those who relapsed and learned from the experience as having failed. One is unrealistic for those providing the information, the other is unfair to their subjects.

Issue #3: Lack of Third-Party Participation

Despite the above two issues, the third may soon change. In 2018, Oregon governor Kate Brown signed an order to begin tracking recovery data through the Adult Behavioral Risk Survey. If this information proves useful, other states may follow suit. For the time being, however, accurate data on drug rehab center success rates remains difficult to find. Treatment facilities can publish recovery statistics pertaining to their own rates of success, and some do. However, the public will continue to call these figures into question until governing bodies or third-party research organizations take up the task.

Drug Rehab Center Success Rates

amethyst recovery

Recovery is difficult, but the few existing drug rehab center success rates show it to be possible.

While finding information on successful recovery rates may prove difficult, a few sources help to provide insight. For one of the most commonly cited figures on drug rehab center success rates, we turn to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. According to their page on treatment effectiveness, relapse rates for substance users range from 40% to 60%. In other words, approximately half of those who enter recovery will succeed without relapsing. This same page suggests that most who receive treatment will recover, but does not cite specific numbers beyond the general relapse rate for substance users.

Another figure, provided by a 2017 research journal, provides a similarly broad overview of recovery rates. According to these numbers, 22.35 million American adults (9.1%) are currently in a period of successful recovery from alcohol or drug disorders. The report continues on to say that half of these receive some form of external assistance, commonly either treatment or support groups. This indicates that as many as half of recovering addicts and alcoholics went through treatment, but still provides little insight into how many treatment patients remain in recovery.

These data points provide two small yet important insights. First, former treatment patients may account for a large percentage of the currently existing recovery community. Second, while NIDA suggests that treatment can yield success in most cases, a lack of specific numbers for “most” still allows for a 40-60% success rate at the very least. A need for more detailed research still exists, but the currently available numbers show great promise.

How Amethyst Recovery Defines Success

amethyst recovery

In the end, every person must define success for themselves.

Many like to say that every journey begins with a single step. Nobody says that every step will land perfectly. They never say that we won’t trip along the way or need someone to help us back up. More importantly, however, few ever really bother to say how we’ll know when the journey ends.

Chemical dependency is a life-threatening condition. Some people believe themselves to have recovered completely, only to fall off the wagon decades later. Does this mean that their years in recovery were all part of one big failure? Or does it simply mean that some lessons take time, and occasionally require a period of re-instruction?

Amethyst Recovery believes that every sober day is a success in and of itself. Ideally, no treatment center would ever see its clients again because they would all remain perfectly sober for the rest of their lives. In reality, some patients must return to inpatient drug and alcohol rehab for further care. Others may suffer a relapse before they learn to truly apply the lessons they learned in treatment.

Falling does not mean failing, provided you get back up. We are every bit as proud of those we have watched get back up as we are those who have stayed on the wagon without issue. No matter what your journey may look like over time, we can help you develop the tools you need to make a strong start. Contact us today for more information on our programs and how they can help.

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