does rehab work

Does Substance Abuse Rehabilitation Work?

So are you looking to find the answer to the question of “Does rehab work?”. Well, you’re in the right place.

We’ll start by saying directly: Yes, substance abuse rehabilitation does work.

In this article, we will cover when substance use becomes an addiction, whether or not rehab works, and treatment options.

So keep reading to learn more.

When Substance Usage Becomes An Addiction

Regular use of drugs, even those that are legal and prescribed can lead to a build-up intolerance, meaning the person will need to take larger doses to achieve the same levels of effect.

This exponentially rising dosage can significantly raise the rate at which physical dependence becomes part of the experience, especially over the long-term. Drug dependency develops when brain chemistry is altered by drug use that now becomes unbalanced without its presence. This means when the drug leaves your system, your body experiences signs of withdrawal and cravings.

Symptoms of withdrawal are usually mild, but they can often be life-threatening. These might be similar to the flu, high blood pressure, seizures, and tremors, but it can also present itself as insomnia, anxiety, depression, cognitive dysfunction.

Therefore, an individual might choose to continue substance abuse to avoid these symptoms. A person might never be able to stop taking these drugs without any external help, but we are hopeful.

Compulsive drug-seeking and the behaviors of usage are identifiers for addiction. The ASAM classifies addiction as a brain disease, which occurs when the brain chemistry is altered and the individual loses control over-usage.


In the most up-to-date Diagnostic & Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders, it states that a person who suffers from two or more of the symptoms listed below in a single-year period, they could be diagnosed with substance abuse disorder.

  1. Drug usage occurs often at greater dosages than intended
  2. Inability to stop drug usage even though wanting to
  3. Drug cravings
  4. Drug-seeking takes long amounts of time
  5. Drug usage despite social and interpersonal issues
  6. Giving up on activities that were once important
  7. Continued drug usage despite harm to others
  8. Interference with regular life obligations due to drug usage
  9. Tolerance
  10. Withdrawal symptoms

The extent to which the addiction has taken a toll is defined by the number of symptoms present from this list. Other things such as genetic vulnerabilities, co-occurring mental health issues, polydrug usage, young age substance use, and environmental stress can increase and exacerbate the extent of an addiction.

Does Rehab Work?

Like any other chronic disease, addiction can be regulated, managed, and treated successfully. Any type of rehabilitation enables the person to counteract the disruptive effects of their drug usage and to regain control of their life. The chronic tendency of the disease means that relapse is not only possible but very likely, with symptom occurrence rates similar to other well-identified chronic illnesses, such as asthma, hypertension, and diabetes.

To the misfortune of many, when relapse occurs, patients deem the rehabilitation a failure. This is not really the case, as a successful treatment for substance abuse requires continued modification and evaluation, similar to approaches taken for other chronic diseases.

For instance, if a patient is going through active treatment for diabetes and the symptoms decrease, treatment would be determined to be successful, even though the symptoms might recur when the treatment is stopped.

For an individual who is addicted, lapses to drug usage are not indicated as failures, they are signifiers that help adjust and reinstate the treatment to ensure that the results get better as time goes forward.

Assistance for Substance Abuse

When substance abuse begins to prevent a person from functioning normally in their daily life, it is time to look for help. There are several forms of treatment that one can choose from, starting with outpatient intensives to comprehensive residential programs.

In general, the more severe the addiction, the higher the level of care is required. Mental health, medical condition, and substance abuse go hand in hand, and they should all be assessed and evaluated by trained providers who can further determine the type of care required.

A typical treatment plan might consist of various moving parts, such as:


Detox can help manage the side-effects of substance withdrawal while the toxins exit the body. Medical detox is often required, as many substances should not be stopped suddenly. Detox makes use of pharmaceutical appliances to help manage the withdrawal and assist the person in becoming stable.


Individual, family, and group sessions can help people engage in life skills, modify negative thought processes, work through personal concerns, and edit behavior patterns. Improved communication skills come with a set of skills to deal with stressors.

Medication Management

When it comes to substance abuse, one would think that the use of medication is a bad idea, which is true, if done incorrectly. With the help of trained providers, medication can be beneficial to recovery and treatment.

There are other components that might be part of treatment:

  • Education
  • Alumni and aftercare programs
  • Support groups
  • Co-occurring disorders treatment
  • Transitional services

A very critical part of recovery is remaining in the program for as long as needed, in order to let the brain heal and for new habits to form. It is recommended that one sticks to treatment for at least 30 days. Staying for this amount of time will minimize the instance of relapse, as the new tools and mechanisms are learned and cemented.

Rehab for You

Now that you know the answer to the question of “Does rehab work?”, you are well on your way to deciding whether or not it’s the right thing for you. Addiction takes a toll on the body, mind, and spirit, so it’s important to determine what’s important for you.

If you’re interested in our treatment programs, get in touch with us and we will happily accommodate your needs.