Does rehab actually work?

David Banks
Authored by David Banks
Posted Sunday, November 17, 2019 - 7:37am

Rehab seems to be the number one cure for people living with drug addictions. It is marketed as the top method to solve addiction issues and give people the chance to turn their life around. However, it is debatable whether this form of treatment actually works or if it is just a temporary fix. After all, what matters is everything after leaving rehab; if one can stay sober and ditch their bad drug addiction habits for good. If you’re wondering about the effectiveness of rehab or are considering sending a loved one to rehab, read on to gain more insight into if it actually works.

Court-ordered drug treatment on the rise

In the US, a total of 37 states permit families and medical professionals to order someone with a drug addiction problem into rehab. Usually, court-ordered drug treatments are only enforced when the person poses a danger to themselves or the people around them in terms of health and safety. However, with emergency commitment enforced in some states, it is possible for families and medical professionals to send drug addicts to treatment facilities for a period of 24 hours to 15 days; all without the requirement of a judge’s order. 

While some may argue that it is a good measure during days when the court is not opened, others find that it will cause overcrowding in the emergency rooms. This is as the number of involuntary commitments has been increasing over the years. Moreover, such commitments are enforced in short durations in most states, thus making their effectiveness debatable in completely ridding addiction problems. 

Does forced drug treatment work?

Although there is an increase in the number of people being admitted into involuntary commitments, it is not an accurate depiction of the effectiveness of forced drug treatment. Not only is there limited research available to prove its effectiveness, but studies have suggested that they may be detrimental to drug addicts instead. For instance, a study done in 2016 by the International Journal of Drug Policy discovered hardly any evidence that such treatment aids in decreasing drug use. 

Furthermore, involuntary drug treatment is commonly linked with a rise in the risk of a non-fatal drug overdose. This could be caused by a loss of drug  tolerance when an addict stops using the drug all of a sudden; even if they aren’t ready. On the other hand, interventions are proven to be a more effective measure as addicts will get the necessary support and treatment in terms of housing, employment, and medication. However, interventions are expensive and most addicts are not able to afford them. This means that if they are placed under court-ordered treatment, they will live in a jail cell while waiting for a spot to open up in the treatment facility; thus significantly decreasing the effectiveness of forced drug treatments. 

Unregulated rehab industry

The truth is, rehabs are ultimately part of a money-making industry; their goals and focus are on making money more than helping drug addicts turn their life around. This might sound harsh, especially to families who hang onto the hope of sending their loved ones to rehab to solve their addiction problem but it has been the reality for many years. As a result, while there are more than 14,500 specialized drug treatment facilities in the United States, it is mostly unregulated. 

This means that the programs and treatments in these facilities were not crafted and planned with reliable research as a basis. Moreover, federal standards are non-existent when it comes to rehab programs or counseling sessions. Families are often willing to fork out a lot of money because they believe that they are helping their loved one but it is imperative to know that some of these treatments are ineffective in expediting the recovery process. 

What drug treatments work?

To date, the most effective opioid treatment is pharmacological treatments. Other treatments that are relatively effective include buprenorphine and injectable naltrexone. Another important point to note is the importance of transitions. It is not enough to push an addict to go for treatment programs against his will as he has to end up managing his own treatment. It is ultimately his health and life so letting him take charge of his treatment will go a long way in encouraging him to stick through till the end. In addition, relying on medications alone will not lead to complete recovery as programs need to study and find out how a person’s environment has impacted him to abuse drugs. If the problems that he faces at work, or other problems like housing and stigmatization are not solved, then the chances of a relapse are much higher. 

Having said that, forced treatments and rehab are not entirely ineffective measures in aiding drug addicts. The key is to choose a treatment that will best suit one’s needs in order for it to work. If you are helping your loved one to choose an appropriate treatment program, you should start by consulting a medical professional or a mental health provider. They will be able to provide you with all the necessary information and guide you in choosing the right facility. Next, search for interventions that have been well-researched; there are residential treatment and outpatient treatment programs, among many other options. Regardless of what you pick in the end, don’t feel discouraged if your loved one relapses during the process; it is perfectly normal so keep showing him/her your love and support. 

Coping with a drug addict in your family or your circle of friends is certainly no easy feat. You want to do all that you can to help them but are sometimes unsure if what you’re doing is beneficial or detrimental. But if you know of someone who has struggles with drugs like xanax for example, you can find more details at At the end of the day, as long as you consult the professionals and do extensive research on the different kinds of treatment programs available, you’ll definitely be able to find one that is well-suited for your loved one. Don’t give up on them during their road to recovery and they’ll be grateful to you for getting their life back on track in the long run. 

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