How Does Rehab Help Drug Addicts

How Does Rehab Help Drug Addicts?

In 2019, 70,630 Americans lost their lives to drug overdose. Opioids, primarily fentanyl, lead the cause of death, followed by heroin and prescription medication. Because of the staggering and continuously increasing rates of drug abuse and overdose, treatment is highly recommended.

Nurse helping Addict

Treatment – which has the goal of stopping the person from compulsive drug use – occurs in various forms and settings. One of the most popular is rehab, which is a center where patients can get addiction treatment. Here, individuals also learn the life skills that help them become productive members of society once again.  

Types of Drug Rehabs

People suffering from drug addiction may opt for any of these 2 rehab settings:

1. Inpatient

Inpatient rehab provides the person a place to stay while he/she receives treatment. Settings can range from a residential environment – to a luxury facility – to a hospital-like setting.

As it removes the individual from the environment that triggers use, most people believe this to be the best type of rehab for addicts. It also provides an immersive experience as everything that’s done in the center is related to recovery. Because of these benefits, those who undergo inpatient rehab are said to be five times more likely to be abstinent – compared to those who just underwent outpatient treatment.

2. Outpatient Rehab

In contrast to inpatient treatment, outpatient rehab offers treatment minus the accommodation. Depending on the severity of the situation, the individual may need to undergo any of the following:

Outpatient Rehab
  • Partial hospitalization
  • Intensive outpatient program
  • Outpatient rehab
  • Substance abuse counseling

While these various programs require different time commitments, outpatient treatment usually requires several hours a day throughout several weeks. Because of this flexibility, outpatient rehab allows the individual to continue his school or work while receiving treatment.

As its less restrictive, outpatient rehab is only recommended for those with mild to moderate issues – and those who have strong support systems. This modality, after all, leaves them exposed to the triggers that have caused them to be addicted in the first place.

How Rehab Works

Rehab makes use of various interventions that help the person overcome addiction:

1. Detoxification


This phase, which lasts anywhere from 3 to 5 days, aims to stabilize the individual. With the help of medication and other treatments, it enables the person to deal with withdrawal symptoms such as tremors or paranoia. At the same time, detox also allows the individual to deal with any legal or domestic problem that may come with rehab.

2. Diagnosis

Many drug addicts suffer from co-occurring conditions, such as depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder. Some individuals, on the other hand, may have suffered from physical or mental trauma that has led to addiction. As these events may affect the treatment process, the diagnostic phase allows mental health experts to determine the right kinds of treatment for the situation.

3. Cognitive Therapy

This part of rehab helps the patient determine his/her addiction triggers. It also teaches things he/she could do to fight these triggers. For example, if the patient tends to use drugs after fighting with the spouse, cognitive therapy teaches the person to go to a Narcotics Anonymous meeting instead of scoring drugs from his/her bookie.

4. Family Therapy

Many rehab centers involve family members to strengthen the addict’s support networks. At the same time, this therapy can help patch up any family issues that may contribute to the patient’s addiction.

5. Evidence-Based Addiction Therapies

Apart from cognitive and family therapy, there are other interventions that help treat addiction. They include:

  • Dialectical behavior therapy, which teaches the person to manage his emotions to decrease relationship conflicts
  • Contingency management, which uses rewards and positive enforcement to stave off addiction
  • Recreational therapy, which focuses on holistic experiences such as yoga – and creative interventions like music and art therapy

6. Medication

Individuals in rehab may also receive medications according to their conditions. According to studies, a three-year course of medication therapy yields better results than those who received medications in under three years. As for heroin addicts, medication treatment helped decrease usage was decreased by as much as 90%.

Taking Medicine

A popular example of medication treatment is Suboxone, which is given to people who are addicted to opiates or heroin. This can help significantly reduce their cravings and withdrawal symptoms.

7. 12-Step Programs

Rehabs also introduce 12-step programs, which the person should attend for a year (or more) after treatment. As a general rule, experts recommend addicts to attend “90 meetings in 90 days”. That’s because studies show that 12-step programs can help the addict maintain sobriety for at least a year. A small piece of the population – 19% – even managed to stay away from drugs for a longer period.

How Long Should Rehab Last?

Since people have varying rates of progression, there is no set duration for rehab treatment. However, some time frames are more effective. At the very least, the individual should undergo about three weeks of treatment lasting several hours a day.

How Long Should Rehab Last

Since treatment length is a telling factor, the National Institute on Drug Abuse ultimately recommends a rehab stint of about 90 days since it helps bring better outcomes.

As for Methadone treatment, 12 months should be the minimum – though continuous treatment is recommended for recovery.

How Does Rehab Help Drug Addicts?

Addiction is a chronic disease – meaning it can only be treated, not cured completely. Relapses happen in 40 to 60% of the cases, but they can be lessened with the help of the interventions stated above.

In essence, rehab may help the individual enjoy recovery, as exemplified by the following results:

  • Reduced frequency of abuse or longer gaps between relapses
  • Better physical health demonstrated by lesser clinic visits
  • Improved mental health as evidenced by positive behavior and mood
  • Enhanced safety, as evidenced by lack of injuries or accidents
  • Better relationships with family and friends
  • Improved attendance to school or workplace
  • Better legal status, as demonstrated by lack of violations or crime

Going to rehab is not a one-time process that treats your addiction immediately. It requires a lifetime of treatments – and behavioral changes – for it to succeed.

Latest posts by Raychel Ria Agramon, BSN, RN, MPM (see all)