As anyone who has ever struggled with chemical dependence knows, addiction is a complex problem that is not easy to handle — particularly not without help. For those determined to quit, drug and alcohol rehabilitation is commonly the most effective tool. Though effective, rehabilitation is woefully under-utilized. According to statistics provided by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 23.3 million people in the United States were in need of treatment for their chemical dependency in 2007. Of these people, only 2.4 million actually got the help they need. As these statistics prove, taking the first tentative steps into rehab is a noble attempt that far too many users make.
Even when an abuser does seek treatment, it isn’t always effective. Those who have taken steps towards seeking rehabilitation but haven’t found their attempts as fruitful as they had hoped should keep their confidence up, remembering that they are in the celebrated minority, having even put this much effort into recovery and that there are effective next steps they can take to realize their dreams of recovery.
When some people lament the fact that “rehab didn’t work,” the real problem often isn’t the effectiveness of the rehabilitation program, but instead the users’ expectations for recovery. Abusers who adopt unrealistic expectations for their own recovery will be continually disappointed, warns the Centers for Disease Control. They may be left feeling that rehabilitation didn’t work for them when, in fact, it was highly effective in reducing their substance abuse issues. The CDC recommends that users change their attitudes, focusing on “one day at a time” instead of expecting a “forever” cure. Users should also remain cognizant of the fact that relapses do happen from time to time, even after the most effective rehab program attempts, and that they should realize that this is a possibility and not allow any minor relapses to derail their efforts entirely.
Post Rehab Efforts
Users that expect to step out of rehab completely cured and ready to tackle the world will be sorely disappointed, suggests Anne M. Fletcher, author of “Inside Rehab” in an article for “The New York Times.” When substance-abusing loved ones step out of the rehab doors and starting complaining that their programs weren’t successful, reminding them that they are the ones who will determine how successful the attempts will ultimately be is vital. Even the best rehab programs are only first steps on the road to effective recovery, reminds Fletcher. Users should never judge the effectiveness of their rehab programs immediately after completion of the program, she argues, as their perceptions of these program will be shaded by fear of stepping back out into the real world. They will also not be distanced enough from their experiences to evaluate their effectiveness critically.
Failed attempts at rehab can derail even the most dedicated-to-recovery users. Abusers who fail at rehabilitation attempts commonly become disgruntled with the entire rehab process, thinking that rehab in general — not their specific programs in particular — won’t work for them. It is vital that, regardless of the effectiveness of the first attempts at a drug rehab program, users keep their minds focused on their overall goals — quitting the use and abuse of the substances that currently hold them hostage. One effective way to do this is for abusers to think critically about why thee wanted to change in the first place. By revisiting these catalysts for motivation, users can potentially renew their commitments to quitting, despite what could have been a major setback.
Evaluate the Failure
Why was the rehabilitation program a failure? Users who can’t answer this vital question are destined to repeat their rehab mistakes. Immediately after realizing that their attempts were failures, abusers must sit down and critically contemplate which parts of the programs didn’t work for them. To complete this analysis in an optimally effective fashion, users should list things they remembers about their programs and label these list items. By placing pluses or stars next to things that they liked about the programs – and found effective – and placing minuses or Xs next things they didn’t like – and found ineffective – uses can produce pictures of what their ideal rehabilitation programs would look like. If users decide to make additional attempts at rehabilitation, they can use these lists to better select rehabilitation programs, potentially increasing their chances of finding programs ideal for them.
Talk to Someone
Users who fail to accomplish their goals in their first rehabilitation program attempts are often left feeling dejected, like failures who simply couldn’t make the programs work. Reducing the frequency and severity of feelings is vital as if abusers continue to beat themselves up over past attempts and failures, they will reduce their likelihood of successfully completing rehabilitation attempts in the future.
Often, the easiest way to reduce these feelings of guilt and anxiety — and prevent the development of worry that future rehabilitation program attempts will prove equally ineffective — is to speak to others and share the concerns. Users should turn to friends and loved ones and discuss their emotions, being open and honest about the worries. Ideally, users should turn to individuals with similar histories of chemical abuse, as these recovered abusers will be able to speak with authority about the rigors of recovery programs. If users do not know people who shares similar histories filled with chemical-abuse-related struggles, they can turn to any people they trust and feel comfortable confiding in. While users may be reticent to share their feelings and thoughts openly, doing so is vital to produce the necessary changes in perspective and outlook. Individuals leading users through these often-tough conversations should encourage them to open up, continually reassuring them that they will neither judge the users nor think them weak.
There are numerous different ways to treat addiction. If a rehabilitation program fails, the problem may be that the treatment method used wasn’t one uniquely suited to the user in question, states the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Abusers who find themselves still using after treatment attempts may find success by rehabilitation another shot, selecting different rehabilitation programs for their second attempts. Those still committed to recovering should use the information they gleaned from evaluating their failure to select new and different treatment programs. When doing this, users and their supporters should specifically look for programs that use different methodologies, as the methods used by the previous programs that provide unsuccessful would likely yet again fail to yield results, so taking a different approach to recovery is a must.
Recovering from substance abuse isn’t easy — which is why so many well-intentioned abusers fail in their efforts to quit and stay quit. Many users enter rehab and find their programs not as immediately as effective as they would have hoped. To reduce the likelihood that these users simply slip back into their older patterns of use and abuse, they should stay focused on their goals and dedicated to continuing on the road to recovery, to which they have committed and down which they have already taken their first careful steps.