I can’t tell you how many times I hear addicts and their family members say “he/she/I have been to treatment already it doesn’t work.” This is a common misconception, the idea that if someone has been through treatment once or twice that the option of residential treatment is off the table.
To first address the misconception that “treatment doesn’t work”:
There are treatment facilities that do a better job then others, but overall most people are able to maintain abstinence while they are in treatment, therefore treatment, if the goal is abstinence, works. What doesn’t work is not following through with the aftercare plan. The other thing that can cause a person to fail is if the treatment isn’t long enough. Most insurance will only pay for 30 days at the most. It has been proven time and time again that 90 days for many addicted individuals is the minimum stay for the desired outcome.
If you suffer a heart attack and don’t follow the recommendations of you MD, you will have a higher chance of having another heart attack. Addiction, like heart disease, is a serious illness and if you want to recover you must make lifestyle changes.
Most aftercare plans recommend 12-step meeting attendance, get a sponsor, meet with a therapist, don’t hang out with using friends. Intensive Outpatient Treatment that we offer at BHH is also an important part of the recovery process. Intensive Outpatient treatment gives the addict/alcohol dependent the structure and accountablity they need to maintain abstinence. Addiction like any other disease is prone to relapse. If a person is in treatment, getting regular urine drug screening, attending 12-step or some kind of clean and sober support group, family counseling, and medication management, their chances of recovery increase significantly.
The treatment professionals do families a disservice by not informing them of the importance of aftercare. The addict gets out of treatment and they feel great the, family has their loved one back, everyone is elated. The addict has a sincere desire to stay clean and sober but without help, the stress of staying clean and starting a new life gets to them, they don’t follow through with building a sober support network, or a treatment program to help them through the first few months of sobriety and boom, they relapse.
My point is this, the addict/alcoholic needs to be in treatment and involved in some sort of sober support network for at least a year to begin to have a good chance at long term recovery. Treatment Does Work, but you have to work it if your goal is long term recovery.