What is the Success Rate for Addiction Treatment and How Can We Measure it??
A common question among people looking into treatment is ‘what is the success rate for addiction treatment?’ This should not surprise anyone. It’s only natural that someone who is desperate to escape the suffering that a life in addiction can bring would want to know there is cause for hope. The friends or family of a person with a substance use disorder may ask what is the success rate for addiction treatment, too. They know they cannot sit idly by while they watch the person, they care about destroy themselves. We want to do something to help, of course. But is addiction treatment the answer? And if it is, how do you know it will work? These are weighty questions that require careful thought.
Difficult Questions and Complex Answers
There isn’t a simple answer here. The biggest reason why is there are many variables. For instance, think about all of the factors that can affect a person’s chances at getting sober and staying sober. Secondly, how do you measure success? If you are to determine a “success rate” you must have a clear definition of success. Is it being sober with zero relapses? For how long? A year after addiction treatment? Two years? Ten years?
What if a person who was a chronic relapse case who overdosed on heroin several times a year goes to treatment? Suppose that person graduates treatment and over the course of 5 years they relapse twice, smoking marijuana at a party once and having some drinks on a holiday another time. But they never touch heroin and they never overdose? Is that person a failure or a success? Did addiction treatment fail? The person slipped twice in 5 years after all. On the other hand, for the first time in their adult life they put together 5 years without touching heroin or overdosing even once. Now you can begin to see why “success” can be so difficult to define in this context.
What is the Success Rate for Addiction Treatment? What is Success?
You want to know what is the success rate for addiction treatment. But, no one can answer that question accurately without knowing exactly what your definition of success is. If anyone gives you a number, they must qualify it. For example. You ask a treatment program what is the success rate for addiction treatment and the person on the phone says “Our success rate is 73%”. That information by itself doesn’t mean anything without context. Your response should be “OK, how do you define success?”. At that point, ideally the treatment representative would tell you. It may be something like, “73% of our patients are still sober 6 months after being discharged”. Even in that case though, how is this information gathered? In most cases it’s based upon calls made by the treatment center’s alumni department. But what about people who they can’t reach? What about people who don’t answer honestly? Again, we have a lot of variables we can’t possibly hope to control for. Have you considered that your definition of success is the only one that really matters?
Things to Consider
Let’s table the question: what is the success rate for addiction treatment for a moment. Instead, let’s look at what your goals for yourself or your loved one are. For instance, consider what would feel like a success to you. Ask yourself why you want to go to treatment in the first place. Think about what may happen if you don’t go to treatment.
Ponder these questions for a moment instead:
- What can you do to improve the chances of success for my own recovery and can you improve your own odds?
- How would you define successful recovery for yourself? What does success look like to you?
- Think about what failure looks like. Which areas do you need the most help in? What are your biggest triggers to use or drink?
- Consider what you are willing to do to succeed in your recovery. Do you have any reservations holding you back?
‘What is the Success Rate for Addiction Treatment’ is the Wrong Question
What we should be asking ourselves is what our definition of success in recovery is. How does that look? Can I improve my own odds of success in recovery? Which areas do I need the most help in? Do I know my triggers and how can I develop effective defenses against them while my recovery grows stronger? What am I really willing to do for my recovery? Notice something all of these questions have in common? They’re all about you.
Asking about success rates is about other people. You aren’t here to watch other people recover. This is about your recovery and the truth is you have much more control over your chances for success in this mission than you can even imagine. All of the questions above are to get you thinking in the right direction. Recovery is a deeply personal thing. It’s not about statistics and odds. If you are here and trying to get help for yourself, you’ve already beaten the odds. So, stop focusing on stats and percentages and start thinking about what you are ready to do for your own recovery. Do that and you will be in the right mindset for success.
If you or someone you love is living with a substance use disorder, Recovery in Tune can help. Give us a call at 1 (844) 7-IN-TUNE or reach out to us via our contact page here.