What If Drug Rehab Doesn’t Work?

Going to drug rehab is the safest and most effective way to combat addiction. However, completing treatment doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll never use again. In fact, relapse is actually a very common, and often expected part of the recovery process. More often than not, it simply means that a person needs other forms of treatment, continued treatment, or additional support in other life areas. Given that addiction is a chronic and lifelong disease, it’s important for people to always have solid, ongoing strategies for managing it. Much like other chronic illnesses such as diabetes and hypertension, there are no set-it-and-forget-it solutions with addiction. Recognizing addiction as a chronic illness can initially be disheartening.

Many people attempt addiction recovery with an entirely abstinence-based approach. They believe that if they stop using, and continue abstaining long enough, their addictions and addictive behaviors will never return. Although drug rehab gives patients ample opportunity to practice abstinence, temptations and cravings can rear their heads long after rehab is complete. When drug rehab fails to produce lasting sobriety, it’s important to determine why it’s failed, and to quickly address the underlying problems. Taking a proactive approach to reversing the course of a relapse will shorten its duration, and give you the best opportunity to reclaim your freedom and your life.

Common Reasons Why Rehab Doesn’t Work

One of the most common causes of relapse after receiving professional addiction treatment is insufficient time spent in rehab. Drug addiction affects the brain and body in significant ways. It takes time for recovering addicts to achieve mood balance, clarity of thought, and renewed feelings of confidence and motivation. Even though most physical withdrawal symptoms for many substances abate after just one to two weeks, people can deal with intense post-acute withdrawal symptoms (PAWS) for one month or more. These largely psychological symptoms can include:

  • Lack of motivation
  • Extreme mental fatigue
  • Severe depression
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Sleep troubles

They indicate that a person’s brain chemistry has yet to balance out, and that the brain has yet to properly heal. More importantly, PAWS can dominate the entirety of a person’s time in rehab when addiction treatment is scheduled to last just one month. Although 30 days can feel like a long time to be away from drugs, away from toxic and enabling relationships, and away from environments that promote or allow drug use, one month is rarely enough time to establish a solid foundation for long-term, relapse-free recovery. The most successful addiction treatment programs are ones that last three months or longer. Not only does long-term rehab give the brain and body ample time to heal, but it also gives patients more time to actively participate in their addiction treatments while their minds are focused and clear, and when their motivation levels are high. Sometimes relapse after rehab is the result of being in the wrong type of addiction treatment.

There are many different treatment modalities that can be used to combat addiction, and to assist patients in creating stable, sustainable lifestyles. However, when choosing addiction services, you’ll find that most treatments options are either inpatient or outpatient programs. Outpatient rehab requires people to commit to spending between 12 and 35 hours on-campus while participating in various types of therapy, stress-management activities, and skill-building classes and workshops. After their scheduled visits are done, people in outpatient rehab can return home, attend school, or go to their jobs. Outpatient rehab can be incredibly appealing given the considerable freedom and flexibility it provides. Conversely, inpatient rehab requires a full-time, long-term commitment in which patients remain onsite both day and night. Inpatient treatment centers offer secure, closed campuses that completely eliminate outside distractions and temptations.

Outpatient treatment is often only recommended for people who’ve spent very limited amounts of time using only moderately addictive drugs. For people who’ve tried and failed in recovery before, and for those who’ve used highly addictive substances, inpatient treatment is always the best choice. No matter why rehab hasn’t worked for you, there’s always the ability to try new forms of treatment, and get new forms of support. Even after highly successful programs have been completed, all recovering addicts should join support groups, have sober sponsors or accountability partners, and engage in other ongoing forms of treatment. These continued, post-treatment efforts are an essential part of effectively managing a long-term, chronic illness. If you’ve completed rehab before and are currently living in a state of relapse, we can help. Call 833-364-0736 today to find the right support services or treatment type for your needs.