Why Does Addiction Treatment Work?

For hundreds of people each year, addiction treatment allows them to overcome damaging behaviors in order to find recovery. To explore why addiction treatment can be so effective, we’ve broken down some of the most common benefits of treatment below.

If you’re considering enrolling in an addiction treatment program, however, it’s important to understand that everyone’s experience with addiction and recovery is different. Some individuals may reach sobriety after enrolling in a single treatment program, while others may require multiple levels of care (and perhaps multiple programs) to achieve success. There is no right or wrong approach — the most important goal is to reach lasting recovery.

Here are some of the reasons why addiction treatment works:

Addiction treatment allows you to find support from your peers

Most addiction treatment programs incorporate some element of peer support, whether through group therapy, 12-step meetings, or other techniques. The reason that peer support is so valuable during recovery is that struggling with addiction can lead to social isolation and rejection of family and friends. Rebuilding a supportive peer network is critical to begin the recovery process. Research also supports the inclusion of peer support in addiction recovery.

  • A 2008 study published in the journal Occupational Therapy International found that participants in a peer support group had lower relapse rates and a higher quality of life.
  • A 2016 study from the journal Substance Abuse and Rehabilitation found that participation in peer support groups could strengthen recovery from substance abuse, make participants more likely to seek treatment, and help them make healthier choices around chronic medical conditions like HIV/AIDS and hepatitis.

This is one of the reasons for the continued popularity and success of peer support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA), both of which are often recommended by treatment programs for ongoing support after treatment concludes.

Addiction treatment is led by trained and licensed professionals

Reputable addiction treatment providers employ professionals who have been trained in addiction treatment and are licensed and certified by their state. Common roles at addiction treatment programs include licensed therapists, social workers, addiction counselors, interventionists, and medical professionals, including doctors and nurses. Many treatment team members have Master’s degrees in their field and may be in recovery themselves, allowing them to share their own personal perspectives and experiences.

It’s important to choose a licensed and accredited treatment program for a variety of reasons, including your safety and the success of your treatment experience. Research also shows that licensed addiction professionals are more likely to use evidence-based practices that are supported by independent studies.

  • In fact, 83% of providers surveyed in 2008 reported using evidence-based treatment in their programs, and that number has only grown since then.

Addiction treatment can lower your risk of relapse

Successful addiction treatment programs can help their clients reduce their risk of relapse or the chance that they will return to using addictive substances after a period of sobriety. While relapse is possible with any chronic illness — and does not indicate that recovery has failed — learning skills to understand and avoid common relapse triggers can help clients re-entering their everyday lives.

  • A 2015 article in the Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine found that relapse prevention worked best when it included techniques such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), which is included in many reputable treatment programs.

Equipping clients with practical methods for determining their relapse triggers, learning to create lifestyles and routines that avoid these triggers, and better coping when a relapse does occur are key outcomes for addiction treatment programs. Without proper support from trained therapists, it’s very difficult for individuals to manage their recovery and relapse risks on their own.

Addiction treatment can provide more support for your recovery

Group Doing A Drug InterventionMany people choose to attend an addiction treatment program when they feel that they have run out of options for their own recovery. Perhaps they have tried to quit using addictive substances on their own with little success, or perhaps they have recently relapsed after a period of sobriety. Whatever the reason, individuals who seek addiction treatment are typically looking for a different approach to recovery than what they have tried previously.

Luckily, reputable addiction treatment providers understand that people in early recovery need hands-on support to understand, manage, and cope with addiction. Often this involves providing structure, guidelines, and a framework for recovery, such as 12-step meetings or different treatment phases. This step-by-step guidance is one major difference between professional addiction treatment programs and attempting to get sober on your own.

This structure can also help people in recovery feel more empowered in their lives and understand that they, too, can make a difference for themselves and others.

  • A 2013 study from the journal BMC Psychiatry found that people in recovery found treatment most effective when they could “help others and feel useful” while they recovered.

Addiction treatment provides a safe space

For many people seeking recovery, they enter an addiction treatment program with their lives upended by addiction. In many cases, they may no longer be speaking with family members and friends. In other cases, they may have lost their jobs, ended careers, dropped out of school, or become homeless.

This is why most treatment programs include a series of individual and group discussion sessions where clients can openly discuss their substance use history, challenges, and hopes for the future. The ability to candidly share life experiences and setbacks with others who have undergone similar experiences can be healing and transformational.

At the same time, most treatment programs incorporate family members and loved ones in the recovery process, also. Through family therapy sessions, clients can heal emotional wounds, reconcile with estranged loved ones, and feel more confident in returning to their everyday lives.

  • As recovery researcher William White noted, “The prospects of long-term recovery for individuals are enhanced by sustained family and social support.”

Every individual’s journey to recovery is unique. Yet for many people worldwide, seeking professional addiction treatment has enabled them to find the support and stability they needed to reach lasting recovery. While long-term addiction treatment success varies from person to person, working with a reputable treatment program is often safer and more sustainable than trying to recover alone.

We hope you’ll reach out to our team at BlueCrest Recovery to better understand how addiction treatment can help you. You can reach us anytime via phone at 973-298-5776.

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