How Effective Is Residential Treatment?

How Effective Is Residential Treatment?

Tracks in snow leading up to person during sunsetResidential treatment can help people with addiction regain stability and productivity at work and within their family and community. Many individuals who complete rehab and post-rehab activities stop using addictive substances and reduce their likelihood of engaging in criminal activity.

Am I Less Likely to Relapse if I Go to Rehab?

Rehab can help people manage addiction successfully and regain control of their lives. However, addiction can be chronic, meaning it is possible to experience relapse. Individuals who go through detox, complete rehab, and participate in 12-step or other post-treatment programs are less likely to relapse than people who skip treatment or leave rehab early.

Will I Have Cravings After Rehab?

Prolonged drug use can affect the brain’s structure and function and also have a significant impact on a person's behavior. These changes can persist long after an individual stops using drugs and are a big reason people relapse after abstaining for a long time, despite understanding the damaging effects of the substance they use. 

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Just as symptoms of other chronic issues can come back after treatment, individuals with addiction may experience cravings and relapse even after completing rehab. 

What Makes Rehab Most Effective?

Rehab centers provide a wide variety of treatments to people with addiction. However, no single treatment is suitable for everyone. A person’s therapeutic program is often unique and depends on the type of substance used as well as the individual's physical, emotional, and mental health. In many cases, your treatment team will match the therapeutic environment and services to your needs. When treatment is tailored to the person in therapy, and when that person is fully invested and engaged, treatment can be at its most effective.

What About the “Revolving Door” Aspect of Rehab People Talk About?

As relapse is possible even after rehab, some people may be concerned about getting stuck in the revolving door of going to rehab, relapsing, and going back. This cycle can cause significant financial issues as well as loss of social support and hope of overcoming addiction.

If you experience relapse, it is important to remember addiction rarely disappears overnight. Successful long-term treatment typically requires continual assessment and modification of the therapeutic approaches in use.

There are also several steps you can take to maximize your chances of long-term recovery.

  • Choose a rehab center that uses evidence-based treatments, specializes in treating your issue, creates individualized treatment plans, and addresses any comorbid issues you might have.
  • Approach rehab with purpose and dedication. Making a serious commitment to the recovery process will help you to stick with it.
  • Share your commitment with loved ones. Documenting your commitment in the presence of others can keep you accountable in rehab.
  • Plan for aftercare before going to rehab. Making these arrangements can increase your likelihood of keeping up with your long-term recovery needs and avoiding relapse.
  • Prepare for relapse. While you should not expect to relapse, it can help to have a plan in place for that possibility. Decide whether you will go back to rehab, stay with family, or seek individual therapy.

People who plan, follow the steps to recovery, and maintain a positive attitude can still relapse, but they are also more likely to achieve sobriety on their second attempt.


  1. How effective is drug addiction treatment? (2012). National Institute on Drug Abuse. Retrieved from
  2. How to avoid getting stuck in the revolving door of rehab. (2015, November 18). Retrieved from
  3. Principles of drug addiction treatment: A research-based guide. (2012). National Institute on Drug Abuse. Retrieved from
  4. Schuman-Olivier, Z., Greene, M. C., Bergman, B. G., & Kelly, J. F. (2014, November 1). Is residential treatment effective for opioid use disorders? A longitudinal comparison of treatment outcomes among opioid dependent, opioid misusing, and non-opioid using emerging adults with substance use disorder. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 144, 178-185. doi:10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2014.09.009

Last Update: 12-08-2017

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