What is the Success Rate for Addiction Recovery?

An estimated 43 percent of all people who go to drug rehabilitation successfully complete their treatment programs, while another 16 percent are transferred to other rehabilitation centers for additional treatment. Rehabilitation success rates for those who complete drug and alcohol detoxification are 68 percent combined. Unfortunately, less than 42% of people who enter treatment for drug and alcohol abuse complete it. Contrary to what some people may believe, addiction treatment doesn't mean someone is “cured of substance use disorder.” Recovery is a lifelong journey that may include some missteps, but the ultimate goal is to overcome addiction and lead a healthy and productive life.

As such, success is not measured by the end of substance use. Instead, it is measured by notable improvements in many areas of life. While addiction may be clinically known as a substance use disorder, it is actually a chronic illness. This means that it is similar to other chronic diseases, such as diabetes or hypertension, there are only treatments, no cures.

A disease such as hypertension can be easily controlled by blood pressure tests; however, addiction affects the brain rather than physical processes, which means that improvements are difficult to quantify. Often, monitoring addiction treatment means asking the patient how they feel and what they think. Relapse is also common in other chronic diseases, such as diabetes and hypertension. And, like treatment for these other conditions, addiction treatment can include medications, ongoing maintenance and checkups, lifestyle changes, and learning new ways of thinking.

Relapse doesn't mean failure; instead, it means it's time to try a new treatment or adjust the current approach to treatment. The following are key aspects of successful addiction treatment: comprehensive ongoing care, dual-diagnostic treatment, physical and mental treatment, and detoxification alone leads to higher risks of relapse. Comprehensive ongoing care means that patients go through several stages of treatment, usually starting with a drug or alcohol detox and ending with long-term subsequent treatment. More than 20 years of research studies have confirmed that patients' progress in treating addiction through stages of ongoing care as they improve helps maintain positive outcomes for long-term recovery.

As with other research, these studies found that ongoing care tends to be most effective when treatment lasts longer. Dual-diagnostic treatment is incredibly important for people with addictions and co-occurring disorders, such as anxiety or depression. These disorders can cause people to use substances in an attempt to self-medicate. Meanwhile, substance abuse can lead to mental health problems.

As such, it is necessary to treat both for better recovery results. A full staff often requires medical professionals such as doctors, nurses, psychiatrists, therapists and other specialists and functions such as dietitians, fitness coaches, and recovery mentors. Facilities that lack these professionals may not be able to provide an all-encompassing range of treatment. While it's difficult to find statistics on rehabilitation success rates specifically, many studies show that certain approaches are effective for different addictions.

This overview of treatment statistics for common substance addictions can only be a general guide. Rehabilitation success rates vary depending on the substance, the type of treatments used, and the individual circumstances surrounding each patient. A 1999 study found that time spent on treatment was strongly related to improved outcomes. People who stayed on treatment for certain times (28 days for inpatients, 90 days for longer stays) were five times more likely to remain abstinent from substance use.

Another study found that long-term treatment led to better outcomes. However, the National Institute on Drug Abuse states that most people with addictions need at least 90 days of treatment to succeed in recovery. The level of care required may vary from person to person. A person with a mild addiction may not need inpatient services, so you could start with an intensive outpatient program.

Treatment beyond detoxification is almost always necessary since simply ridding the body of substances does not address the underlying factors that lead to substance use. Opioid addiction is usually treated with medications such as buprenorphine, methadone or naltrexone to prevent cravings and relapse. Studies have found that heroin use decreased by 90% in people taking MAT medications. In addition, outpatient treatment has a 35% completion rate while inpatient treatment completion rates were up to 65%.

Many people with alcohol addictions also use 12-step support programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) as support. A study found that people who attended 12-step meetings increased from an average of 20% of sober days to 80% of sober days after a year while 19% did not drink at all. Another study found that 67% of people who attended 27 weeks of AA were sober after 16 years while only 34% of people who did not go to AA were sober. There are no FDA-approved drugs used to treat cocaine addiction although disulfiram (used to treat alcohol addiction) has shown promise in certain people.

The most common forms of treatment are behavioral therapies and contingency management is particularly effective. This type of therapy rewards people who stay sober with tokens that can be redeemed for things like movie tickets or restaurant vouchers. Cognitive-behavioral therapy has also demonstrated better success rates. Research shows Matrix Model may be most effective treatment for methamphetamine addiction.

This four-month program uses behavioral therapy and counseling to address withdrawal symptoms such as depression and anxiety. A study found that 60% of patients who participated in this program were sober after six months. Alcoholics' recovery rate is generally low and alcoholism relapse is high according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). NIDA notes that 40-60 percent of patients with addiction treatment relapse like any chronic medical illness addiction requires ongoing care and symptoms may return after treatment.

Relapse doesn't always mean treatment has failed; sometimes a person makes a lot of progress but he needs more time to fully heal while sometimes they relapse but they are able to regain sobriety on their own thanks to the skills they learned in rehabilitation.