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6 Reasons Why Drug & Alcohol Rehab Success Rates Are So Low

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Did you know that despite the increasing prevalence of both outpatient and inpatient addiction treatment programs -- over 14,500 in the United States alone -- more people than ever are dying from drug overdoses? Why the low alcohol rehab success rates? Why the low drug rehab success rates? What's going on?

It’s sad but it’s true. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), opioid overdoses were responsible for a record 28,000 deaths in 2014, the last year of data available.

Plus, addiction recovery rates for popular 12 Step groups such as AA may be as low as 5-10%, according to Dr. Lance Dodes, the author of The Sober Truth: Debunking the Bad Science Behind 12-Step Programs and the Rehab Industry.

Here are six reasons behind the low drug and alcohol rehab success rates that are so common today. In the process, we’ll also discuss what programs can do to help people recover.

Reason #1: Absence of Dual Diagnosis Residential Treatment

Until recently, mental health conditions and addiction were considered separate.

Now, however, we know that a very large percentage of people dealing with alcohol or drug addiction have a dual diagnosis: a substance abuse issue coupled with a mental health condition, such as depression or anxiety.

For example, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), of the 20.2 million people with a substance use disorder in the United States, at least 7.9 million (39%) had a mental illness of some kind.

dual-diagnosis-addiction-treatment

Many addiction recovery professionals believe that the actual dual diagnosis rate is even higher, as mental health concerns are often under reported.

Many alcohol and drug rehabs now list dual diagnosis treatment as part of their offerings. But if you look closely, you may notice a disconnect between the services listed and the supports provided.

Since there’s no standard definition of what constitutes “rehab,” the quality of inpatient alcohol treatment centers varies tremendously.

One major issue is the number of professional counseling hours provided.

Some inpatient addiction treatment programs offer the minimum number of counseling hours required by the state in which they operator.

That can be as little as 1 hour per week, or approximately 4 total hours in 28 days.

Make sure you check on this as you go through your research. By way of comparison, we offer 120+ hours of licensed professional counseling for each participant over the course of 28 days.

Reason #2: Shame and Guilt

When people first come to an inpatient addiction treatment center, chances are they’re having a hard time. In many cases they’ve just finished detoxing from alcohol or drugs, so they’re still dealing with physical issues as their emotional issues start to rise to the surface.

Many people enter alcohol and drug addiction treatment feeling frightened and unsure, but also willing to take a shot at changing their lives. But what happens next?

drug-rehab-success-rateToo often, they get a barrage of shame and guilt messages.

Program leaders tell them that they are broken, flawed, damaged, or deficient in any number of ways.

They’re told that no matter what they do, they’ll always be addicts.

Encouraging?

Inspiring?

Not so much.

So check this out as you conduct your addiction treatment research.

By contrast, our Program is based around the belief that you are powerful and capable of healing. Our staff is here to support you, because you already possess all the tools that you need to recover. You are your own best teacher … no shame and guilt necessary!  

Reason #3: Focus Solely on Physical Coping Strategies

Many inpatient addiction recovery centers address only physical-level behavioral changes. These are what we can do to address physical cravings for drugs or alcohol, such as aversion therapy.

While these certainly have their place, they’re not the whole picture.

In order for you to heal thoroughly, you need to address and heal on the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual levels. Every person has these 4 levels of self.

In particular, we’ve noticed that many addiction recovery centers avoid working with emotional issues.

This is ironic, because often when people use the term “mental health issues,” they’re really referring to emotional health issues.

“We try to think our way out of emotional problems and wonder why that doesn't work out! A lot of addiction problems come into play when people say, 'I can't think my way out of this problem. I don't know how to address it on the emotional level, so let me numb out to it.'” - Dr, Scott Alpert, co-founder, The Clearing

The good news is that when you learn proven psychological techniques -such as Gestalt Therapy - to heal at the emotional level, you can make dramatic progress.

Reason #4: Lax Screening Process

There are plenty of addiction recovery centers out there that accept people with no other criteria than “they can pay.”

This results in addiction recovery groups with participants that are all over the map.

Some people really want to recover and do the work …

...but others enrolled under duress or coercion.

A single person who doesn’t want to be in recovery can prevent an entire group from doing their own work.

If you’ve ever been part of a team in which one person didn’t make an effort (or actively resisted other’s efforts), then you know how it goes.

Every individual’s motivation matters.

Plus, many addiction recovery centers admit and discharge people daily. This creates a highly distracting and disjointed experience for everyone else going through the addiction recovery program.

So be sure to check this piece out as you do your research.

Some addiction recovery programs avoid these pitfalls. For example, The Clearing has a cohort-based approach, which means that everyone moves through together. Everyone starts and ends at the same time, which facilitates unified, positive progress. Our strict admission criteria also means that we turn away more than 50% of the people who request admission.

Reason #5: Under-Qualified Addiction Treatment Staff

Would you feel motivated to dive into vulnerable emotional work in a place where the staff wasn’t supportive?

No way!

But sadly, unsupportive or under-qualified staffers are common in most addiction recovery centers.

Co-founder Betsy Koelzer recalls serious staffing issues during her own stay at a Malibu Treatment Center:

“The residential treatment program at the Malibu treatment center I went to was nothing more than well-intentioned contract counselors who rotated among clients weekly for sparse individual and group sessions. I later learned that my lead counselor was being paid $12 an hour and was an intern. Beyond that, we were completely outsourced to local AA meetings …”

When people are paying thousands of dollars a day for addiction treatment, they deserve much better than that.

They deserve supportive, caring, highly qualified staff members who are wholly invested in their progress.

Reason #6: Little to No Aftercare

Imagine going through a 28-day inpatient addiction treatment program and feeling as though you’ve made strides toward living drug-free … only to return home with no consistent support and no follow-up care.

Without a strong support system in place, you give into familiar patterns and give up on sobriety.

Sadly, that’s the reality for many people who go through mainstream addiction recovery programs.

Without the structure of their inpatient addiction treatment program, they lose sight of the skills they learned and return to their old habits.

So make sure you check out the Aftercare program that follows the inpatient stay. The Clearing provides long-term aftercare to everyone who graduates. We have a consistent schedule of support calls and accountability check-ins to ensure that you get the help you need to create a healthy life for yourself.

Summary of Why Drug and Alcohol Rehab Success Rates are So Low

Drug and alcohol rehab rates for popular 12 Step groups such as AA may be as low as 5-10%. We believe these are so low due to:

  1. Absence of dual diagnosis treatment
  2. Shame and guilt
  3. Focus only on physical coping strategies
  4. Lax screening process
  5. Under-qualified addiction treatment staff
  6. Poor Aftercare

An Addiction Recovery Program That’s Different

If you’re looking for an addiction recovery program that provides integrated dual diagnosis treatment in a supportive, positive environment, consider The Clearing.

We’ve purposefully created a unique Program that’s unlike most other inpatient addiction treatment centers out there … and our Participants are seeing great results.

Our 80% rehab success rate has remained consistent throughout our history … in fact, it has actually gone up a bit recently!

At present, more than 80% of our graduates are living their life free of addiction (contact us to learn about this remarkable statistic).

If you’re ready to address your core issues, contact us today, or download our free eBook, The Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Residential Addiction Treatment Program:

Download eBook:  The Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Residential Addiction Treatment Program  

Caroline McGraw

This post was written by Caroline McGraw

Caroline Garnet McGraw is a writer and speaker who, like her literary BFF Jane Eyre, would always rather be happy than dignified. She's the creator of A Wish Come Clear, a personal development blog that gives you carte blanche to change your life. Her writing has appeared on sites such as The Huffington Post, Momastery, Positively Positive, and MindBodyGreen. An honors graduate of Vassar College, Caroline lives and works in Florence, Alabama.

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