One of the fundamental questions that some addicted persons and their loved ones have is do rehabs work for drug, alcohol and other addictions?

The answer is “Yes, rehabs generally do work for addictions treatment.”

You see, alcohol and drug addiction are global problems that significantly impact a nation’s economy, its social fabric and the personal lives of its citizens.

As a matter of fact, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), 31 million people worldwide have drug use disorders. WHO also reports that in 2004 alone, alcohol use disorder prevalence rate was estimated to be up to 16% globally.

So there is no doubt that substance abuse and addiction is a problem in our society.

And to help those with alcohol or drug problem return to a useful, productive life in the community, workplace, and family, getting treatment from a reputed, reliable and effective drug or alcohol rehab facility is important.

On this page, we will provide you with some helpful information to help you get the answer to the question does addiction rehabilitation really work.

Do rehabs work – First learn what an addiction rehab is

Addiction rehab (rehabilitation) is a psycho-therapeutic/medical approach to treatment aimed at handling dependence on psychoactive substances like prescription drugs, alcohol, and street drugs.

It also addresses addictive behaviors.

The main objective of addiction rehab is to assist a patient to break their substance dependence, ensure that they stop using, prevent relapse into addictive behavior and to avoid the physical, social, financial, legal and psychological consequences that ensue especially in extreme cases.

Treatment for addiction can include counseling and medication among other methods

The traditional drug, alcoholism, other addiction rehab modalities

When seeking professional help for an alcoholic or a drug addict, there are many treatment options and techniques available.

Some professionals use traditional or holistic treatment techniques. While some will combine both holistic and traditional rehab.

Part of knowing whether or not the treatment plans from a rehab center works is to understand some of the treatment modalities.

We will be discussing traditional rehab modalities first as that’s what most alcohol, drug, and other addiction rehabilitation facility mostly use.

The traditional treatment modalities more evidence and scientific research-based compared to holistic ones.


In most cases, one starts with detoxification, which is followed by withdrawal often managed with medicines.

This is the initial treatment phase.

Detoxification is a process in which the body is cleansed of the substance being abused and the procedure is designed to manage the dangerous and acute effects related to stopping a substance.

Since detoxification facilities detox programs alone are insufficient to deal with the behavioral, psychological and social problems related to addiction, it has to be followed by assessment and then referral to a treatment center.

Group therapy: The National Institute of Health (NIH) reports that studies have shown that group therapy is the most used treatment program for substance abuse as it offers significant advantages. It allows patients to encourage and support one another during treatment.  Does rehab really work when group therapy is used for addiction treatment? There are many factors that could come into play, but it is certainly an effective approach.

Individual therapy:  Here, counseling is done on an individual basis. Though not as common as group therapy, individual therapy is mainly used in an outpatient setting. It has many benefits that cannot be achieved through group therapy. Hence, an effective treatment program must combine both group and individual therapies for a better outcome.

Family and couples therapy: Family and marriage have an important function when it comes to addiction treatment. It is important for people dealing with addiction to maintain strong bonds with family and partners especially as they recover. Couples and families can encourage the patient to start treatment. Most people take comfort in their families to avoid relapse. families and spouses of addicts get affected by a loved one addiction problem. It is therefore of great help if the family can be included in some therapy sessions.

Medication-assisted treatment (MAT): Medical assisted treatment is a process where medications are administered to handle withdrawal symptoms and curb cravings associated with substance use. Certain opioid medications like methadone and buprenorphine are used in treating dependence and addiction to opioids like oxycodone, morphine, and heroin. These are usually maintenance therapies aimed at reducing opiate craving.  There are other medications to interrupt psychological cravings and dependence on nicotine, alcohol, stimulants, narcotics and other drugs. Antidepressants have also been used to help with nicotine and smoking addiction. Does rehab work with MAT treatment modules is a question that some medical experts and professionals debate often? Some believe that using medications for substance treatment can make some addicts get addicted to the drugs being used. However, research has shown that when properly administered that medication using during substance abuse treatment doesn’t lead to being addicted to those drugs.

Relapse prevention therapy: This approach has been the mainstay of treatment and addiction theories for many years now. There has been much advancement in this area. Relapse prevention therapy is integrated into different substance interventions. It is a powerful behavioral and cognitive framework that makes clinical approaches clearer to understand and facilitates change.  The strategy aims at reducing the likelihood and severity of relapse.

Moral reconation therapy: This approach aims at decreasing recidivism or the tendency to use drugs or alcohol again. It addresses the psyche of the patient as well as his/her social, moral and behavioral growth.

Motivation enhancement therapy: This is a time-limited therapy used to treat addiction problems. It involves collecting data on the individual and providing feedback that explores the willingness/motivation to change.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy: This therapy is based on the assumption that individuals with addiction have certain core beliefs that are not always accessible to their conscious minds. Because of such beliefs, the patient anticipates imagined benefits associated with substance use, which in turn result in cravings that lead to permissive beliefs.

Dialectical behavior therapy: This evidence-based therapy was initially aimed at treating personality disorders. It is now useful in the treatment of suicidal ideation, mood disorders and behaviors such as substance abuse and self-harm.

12-step facility therapy: This is a calibrated program where the patient must accept that they have an addiction and then renounce their former lifestyle that supported the addiction. The approach was originally formulated by Alcoholics Anonymous and has been adapted for different types of addictions today.

How well does traditional rehab really work?

When it comes to whether or not the traditional rehab modalities mentioned above work, research has shown that they are effective when properly implemented and customized based on each individual need.

Since addiction is considered a brain diseases it is important to effectively treat it with evidence-based and research-based modalities as the primary.

Do rehabs work with holistic treatment techniques?

Holistic treatment techniques can also be made available as an alternative or complementary medicine to traditional treatment techniques.

And the questions that some people have is do rehab really work when holistic rehab approaches are used for the treatment of alcohol or drug abuse?

The holistic addiction rehab methods are applied to get a patient back on track without necessarily involving the administration of drugs.

This method aims at healing the body, mind, and soul as a whole. It is not only about symptoms, but also about the overall wellness of the patient.

Since there is not much research on holistic addiction approaches effectiveness as a standalone approach, the methods are recommended to be used as a complementary treatment with the traditional rehab modalities.

Some of the most common holistic drug and alcohol rehab programs involve:

  • Yoga: This is a gentle exercise that strengthens the body and the mind of the addict. It focuses on movements and meditation to calm the individual and reduce cravings amongst other things.
  • Art therapy: The art therapy is used to help an addiction patient to express himself or herself better. Sometimes communication can be an issue and art can help bring out emotions to initiate the healing process.
  • Massage: Muscles and connective tissues are manipulated to enhance their functioning and promote wellbeing and relaxation.
  • Tai chi: This is a Chinese practice where the body moves gently and slowly from one pose to the next. It helps to enhance the flow of vital energy and qi.
  • Spiritual therapy: Addiction is sometimes viewed as a spiritual disease. For the addict to recover, spiritual healing is required. Faith-based methods can also be applied.
  • Acupuncture: This is a component of Chinese medicine where needles are inserted into the body.
  • Equine therapy: These treatments involve horses to promote mental health and physical health in humans. It is used in drug addiction to instill responsibility in patients.
  • Meditation: This is where techniques such as mindfulness are used to gain awareness or attention. This helps the patient achieve a stable and emotionally calm state.
  • Dance Therapy: This is an approach where dance is used to achieve the well-being of a patient. It is believed to assist in self-expression.
  • Leisure: This is where experiential and recreation activities are applied to maintain and enhance the health status and functioning of an individual.
  • Cultural awareness: Therapists evaluate the cultural background of their patients to give a more individualized treatment program.
  • Music therapy: This is where musical intervention is used for an individualized experience. Therapists should have music therapy qualifications.

So how well does holistic rehab really work?

As mentioned earlier, holistic rehab is not considered to be an evidence-based or a scientifically approved method of dealing with addiction.

So naturally, people would wonder, does rehab really work with such treatment approaches?

Yet, today, several reputed rehab facilities are embracing holistic methods and offering it to their patients.

When conducted in accordance with the protocol and traditional methods it tends to work really well.

Holistic treatments are can be effective while dealing with withdrawal symptoms.

They soothe and calm the nerves and help to deal with the pain and associated nervous reactions.

However, these methods are not endorsed by any regulatory body and if they are to be applied, they should be undertaken as a complement to regular, more recognized treatment programs.

So what is the success rate of drug & alcohol rehab centers programs?

Alcohol and drug addictions are global issues and they impose a great burden on the economy, cause premature mortality, result in disability and disease and result in enormous social and emotional costs.

It is important to learn how to deal with drug addiction and one of the most common ways to deal with it is to seek professional help from rehab facilities that are run by qualified, trained and experienced professionals.

People don’t like to commit to available treatment programs because of doubts about whether or not rehabs really work.

The reality is that even though many treatment centers may tout their success rate, studies have shown that 40% – 60% of those in addiction recovery will relapse in the first year reported US News.

Now that doesn’t mean that going to a rehab center is not important. The most important thing is to pick the right addiction rehab facility to increase the chances of your treatment success rate being high.

What to look for in a good substance abuse rehab facility program

When it comes to addiction rehab facilities, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution and the quality of treatment provided can vary widely.

Therefore, you need to pick a good facility as this can determine the kind of outcome.

There are addiction rehab centers where the systems are lax and lack adequate monitoring.

Drugs and other addictive substances are sneaked into the patients, which results in treatment failure.

These situations make one wonder does rehab centers really work for drug and alcohol addiction?

It is important to find a facility that has strict rules and proper screening.

This is the only way to ensure that you or a loved one stay safe and get the right treatment.

In some instances, patients may be neglected and left without guidance.

In such cases, they may start reliving past episodes with drugs or alcohol and come to the conclusion that addiction is not harmful.

Bad influences and an ineffective rehab facility can cause a swift relapse once the individual reenters the community.

There are also instances where the center is not staffed with qualified personnel.

Without the right support, the road to recovery can be a bumpy and rough ride.

Lack of adequate follow up and counseling leads to relapse.

To ensure the best treatment outcomes, these are some of the things that need to be researched well in advance before anyone commits to a treatment program:

  • Amenities: Check the kind of amenities a rehab facility has to offer. Consider the sleeping areas, recreational spaces, hygiene, supervision, visitation rules, diet and nutrition, educational training opportunities, etc. Even when opting for affordable facilities, these are some of the essentials that make recovery as smooth as possible.
  • Staff training and licenses: One of the things that ensure successful outcomes is the staff. Addiction is a disease and it needs to be handled by the best-qualified personnel with proper licensing to operate such a facility.
  • Facility Accreditation: You need to check the accreditation of the facility that you select. There are certain regulatory bodies that control such facilities and rules and regulations that such facilities must comply with. Make sure that the facility you choose has all these.
  • Testimonials: Genuine reviews and experiences of other people who have had a successful outcome in this facility provide useful information about the kind of facility you are entering into. Ensure that you conduct as much research as possible to establish that this is the right facility.

The other thing that helps is asking questions.

While you are being evaluated or while looking for the best rehab facility, ask relevant questions regarding your particular addiction and the kind of strategy that will be followed.

There is no fixed rehab program that can suit everyone. Each person needs his or her own individualized plan.

A good rehab facility will discuss your issue and come up with a program that is uniquely tailored to your needs and other relevant factors.

A detox may affect your rehab outcome.

Normally, the first thing that happens during a substance use disorder rehab is the detox.

This involves flushing the body of toxic substances that the patient has been using.

Detoxification is one of the most critical stages of rehab, especially because of the occurrence of withdrawal symptoms that result from the stopping of the addictive substance in the person’s system.

Sometimes withdrawal symptoms can be life-threatening and this is why it must be done in a prescribed, systematic way. Medicated detox makes things easier for the patient, but it has to be done under professional supervision for better results.

It is important to select the right rehab facility to ensure a successful outcome and the detox facilities available have to be carefully evaluated.

The right detox type needs to be selected too.

The patient’s safety is of paramount importance and unless the process is carefully monitored, it can lead to disastrous consequences.

At best, it can result in a failure of treatment.

The rehab facility must share all the details of the exact procedures used in detox with the patient and their families to help them make more informed choices.

The treatment care setting may affect rehab success rate – Inpatient vs outpatient

What does a rehab setting have to do with the question do rehabs work? Be patient and read on. We will explain.

In general, there are two treatment programs setting options available during rehab: inpatient and outpatient.

The focus of both programs is to provide the best possible treatment. However, each program has its own benefits and drawbacks.

Both types can be customized based on the requirements, the severity of addiction and the general health status of the addicted person.

Inpatient programs are conducted in a residential setting where the patient is admitted for the duration of treatment.

The services offered are more intense and designed to cater to serious addictions.

Outpatient rehabs are programs carried out on a part-time basis and don’t require admission in a residential facility.

They allow the patient to go on with daily activities while getting treatment.

Patients and loved ones must understand and evaluate the difference between the two types of programs if they are to be successful with rehabilitation and ensure that the person maintains an addiction-free life.

Residential or inpatient programs are great with very severe cases. Such patients would benefit more from being confined in a facility where they can avoid triggers, be monitored by a professional team and get help with addiction so they can get back to normal life.

Outpatient rehab is ideal for people just coming out of rehab or those that do not have very severe issues.

It is also great for those who cannot afford to be confined in a facility as they have responsibilities to fulfill.

They can get all the benefits of rehab while continuing to lead a normal life.

Treatment program length may also affector your treatment program addiction treatment success

The length of a treatment program is mapped out by the treatment professionals involved.

It is based on several important factors like the severity of the addiction, age, type of substance used, amount of physical and mental deterioration, general health, etc.

Short-term rehabs: This rehab is of around 2830 days’ duration. It is a typical inpatient program. During treatment, the patient resides within the facility. This enables him or her to take part in other intensive treatment procedures.

Though these programs are carried out for a short duration, the patient may be treated for over six hours every day.

Long-term rehabs: This program takes 60, 90, 120,180 days, 1 year and up.

Long-term rehab requires a lot of commitment. There is a greater range of treatments offered during this period of time and the programs can be personalized to a great extent.

Some research has shown that long term treatment provides better positive outcomes than shorter-term programs.

The Federation of State Physician Health Programs recommended 90-day and above rehabilitation programs.

Long-term programs are capable of meeting the patient’s essential treatment goals, allowing them to avail of different services, therapies, and treatments at the same time.

Following through with aftercare programs is important

Rehab timelines vary from one patient or facility to the next.

However long or short they are, they are time-bound programs.

Recovery is an ongoing process and generally, professional opinion encourages patients to continue for a longer period.

It is at this point that aftercare planning is required.

A good rehab program will never allow a patient to get back into society without a plan to remain connected with them through appropriate aftercare programs.

Aftercare planning and following through with them is the most important part of your recovery journey or you would be left wondering do rehabilitation really work.

Aftercare deals with ongoing treatments and follow-up programs and they occur after the initial rehab has been completed.

The gains of such programs include:

  • Maintaining recovery
  • Finding ways to avoid a relapse
  • Getting a life with healthy relationships and purpose

Types of aftercare programs include support groups, outpatient programs, and sober residences.

Following through on the aftercare programs will impact the success of a rehabilitation program. So make sure that you follow through with all recommended aftercare programs.

And be wary of a rehab center that doesn’t recommend and help you plan an aftercare program during your alcohol or drug addiction treatment.

So does rehabilitation centers work? It comes down to you

For an alcohol or drug rehab program to work, the patient has to be committed and follow through with all treatment plan consistently.

It also takes personal motivation to follow addiction treatment programs thoroughly that have so much to offer a recovering patient.

Whether you are an adult or teen dealing with drug or alcohol addiction, you need to commit to rehab programs once you enroll in one. And do everything in your power to make it work.

Speak with an addiction counselor now

We hope that we have provided some great information that will help you get the answer to the question do rehabs work.

If you still have more questions or would like to speak to someone about getting into addiction treatment please call 866-579-8780 for a free consultation with an admission counselor.

There is no cost for calling the number or obligation when you speak with an addiction rehab professional.

Updated on May 21st, 2023