Inpatient rehab is known to be quite successful in helping those suffering from addictions. It is often more recommended than outpatient rehab because of its effectiveness. While inpatient rehab is more expensive, the results are usually better in the long term.
Speaking of effectiveness, have you ever wondered how this is measured in the field of addiction recovery? It’s actually not as simple as you might expect. Addiction is a complicated condition, and different rehab centers have different means of measuring success rates.
What is addiction?
First off, let’s define what addiction really is. For the most part, addiction is defined as substance use disorder. In other words, taking addictive substances, like drugs or alcohol, has become an essential part of users’ lives. They can no longer function normally without these substances. And using interferes with their daily lives, taking up much of their time, effort, and money. These are why it’s considered a disorder.
If users stop taking substances, does that mean they have recovered successfully?
Well, yes and no. Yes, because stopping the use of addictive substances is one of the main objectives of rehab. But that’s not all there is to recovery. Addiction affects people in more ways than just substance use. It affects their behaviors, relationships, moods, states of mind, and lifestyles. These factors may not be measured directly, but they have an impact on the lives of patients after rehab.
So, if substance use has stopped but there are still behavioral problems, the recovery process is not yet complete. The patient needs to continue going through behavioral therapies, psychotherapies, or counseling.
Addiction is like a chronic disease
Many chronic diseases, like high blood pressure and diabetes, cannot be cured. There are only treatments to relieve symptoms, like medications.
While ailments like diabetes can easily be tracked through regular blood tests, the same is not true for addiction. It affects the brain and nervous system, so you can’t use tests to find out if there are improvements.
Instead, monitoring addiction recovery often involves talking with patients themselves. Therapists would ask how they feel, what’s on their mind, and other questions. How patients answer these questions will help therapists determine the course of recovery.
Because of this method, the process is often subjective rather than objective. It’s very hard to put patients’ progress into numbers, unlike blood sugar level or blood pressure.
How do rehab professionals define successful recoveries?
It depends on the rehab center. Different centers have different criteria for effectiveness. There are no universal criteria, so rehab centers must define success markers on their own.
For best results, choose rehab centers that are trustworthy and have good credentials. These centers do not just help stop substance use; rather, they deal with people in a holistic manner. In other words, they also deal with the emotional aspects, avoiding drug triggers, and healthy ways of coping with stress, among other things.
Relapse does not mean that rehab has failed
Let’s say recovery as loosely defined as stopping all manner of substance use. What if a patient relapses? Then you might think that the recovery has failed.
In truth, though, relapse is a common part of the recovery process. In fact, 40 to 60 percent of addiction patients experience relapse. This is a bit comparable to the relapse rates for two chronic illnesses: hypertension and asthma, which are both at 50 to 70 percent. Looking at these numbers, the relapse rate for addiction is actually lower.
If patients relapse, it only means that they need to try new medications, learn new mindsets, and adopt other techniques in managing stress. They can still recover from their addictions if the relapse is addressed quickly and properly.
Successful rehab requires a “Full Continuum of Care”
For rehab to be most effective, it must treat the patient as a whole. Treatments should start with a high level of care, where treatments are more intensive. This progresses into lower levels of care, with less intensive treatments, as the patient moves along the rehab process.
This so-called Full Continuum of Care often starts with medically-assisted detox. The aim of this procedure is to rid the body of harmful drug elements and to manage withdrawal symptoms. The latter part is quite important – withdrawal is often unpleasant and painful, so they have to be minimized during the detox process. Otherwise, these withdrawal symptoms may push patients to use again.
After this stage, patients go through many sessions of therapy and counseling. These treatments have different aims, including:
- Identifying the root cause of addiction
- Understanding the addiction process and how it affects them
- Signs that an addiction has taken hold
- Managing stress and negative emotions
- Healthy coping mechanisms
Patients may also undergo what is called Dual diagnosis, especially when they have co-occurring conditions, like depression or anxiety, along with the addiction. Mental health problems may have pushed them to use substances, as they would like to self-medicate.
It goes both ways as well. Substance abuse can, and does, lead to mental health problems. For these reasons, dual diagnosis is a crucial part of the continuum of care.
Length of treatment matters
Often, rehab programs that last 90 days or fewer see lower success rates than longer treatments. Also, programs that run for more than 90 days have better outcomes for patients in the long run.
Successful recoveries involve evidence-based treatment methods
Patients can undergo a wide range of therapies. However, the most effective ones are evidence-based treatments. These methods are backed by lots of research proving them to be effective.
Such treatments include:
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy
- Medication-assisted therapy
- Recreational therapy
- Contingency management
- Dialectical behavioral therapy
Effective rehab requires a well-rounded set of personnel
To treat addiction holistically, both the physical and mental aspects must be considered. Thus, it’s best to look for rehab centers that employ a variety of specialized staff, including nurses, doctors, psychiatrists, counselors, and therapists.
Another key factor is the ratio of personnel to patients. If each member of staff handles only a few patients at a time, they can give more attention to each patient, facilitating better recovery.