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Does Rehab Really Work?

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Drug and alcohol rehab can be intimidating with many swirling ideas, misconceptions, and stigmas surrounding it. Challenging addiction and taking the first step toward a sober future is already difficult enough. Additional barriers to rehab only exacerbate the difficulty of engaging in these dedicated programs designed to challenge an individual’s use of drugs and alcohol. 

With all the misconceptions surrounding rehab, one question is exceptionally prevalent: Does rehab really work? While nothing about rehab or recovery is easy, professional detox, residential, and outpatient treatment, and rehab programs are an incredibly effective way to not just challenge an individual’s use of addictive substances, but also begin their journey toward a sober lifestyle, mentality, and perspective. 

The Misconceptions of Rehab

There are many images that come to mind when the word “rehab” is mentioned, and the perspectives surrounding such a word can vary wildly from person to person. For many, rehab may impart images of a sterile, hospital-like setting, with blank walls and lab coats. This is not an accurate reflection of rehab practices, with many programs actually filled with comfortable atmospheres, natural and calming iconography, and even a home-like setting. Individuals will find group activities and experiential therapies are integral parts of many rehab programs. 

Others may feel that rehab is an admission of some kind of moral failing, or that they have somehow “failed” in some arbitrary way. Rehab is not about approaching addiction or substance use disorder (SUD) as a moral failing, but rather more accurately as a disease that affects an individual for a variety of reasons. There can be many factors involved in addiction, including trauma, environmental influences, and an individual’s genetics. Addiction can develop as a reaction to these external factors rather than any kind of internal moral failing, and rehab is a sign of strength in challenging these influences.

Answering the Big Question: Does Rehab Work?

The question “Does rehab work?” is actually very loaded, with many ways to approach the question. The answer depends on the individual engaged in an active rehab program. Each individual will have their unique goals in sobriety. Some may pursue rehab to learn to process urges and cravings. Others may set personal goals for themselves beyond their use of addictive substances, such as rebuilding relationships, pursuing a professional career, or developing a new hobby and sober identity. 

These goals are all ongoing, constantly developing, and changing with time. It is impossible to say that one’s journey with recovery and sobriety is ever “complete,” or something that has “ended” in some way. While an individual may graduate from a detox or residential program, recovery efforts are a constantly evolving thing. Approaching rehab as a binary “pass” or “fail” is an unfair metric by which to gauge one’s progress or success in sobriety. 

Navigating the Threat of Relapse

Another common misconception is that relapse is somehow a part of the recovery process — not just something that one may face, but instead treated like a rite of passage to get to the “true” recovery. This idea can be very dangerous as it mitigates how serious and dangerous a relapse can be. While relapse is possible, it is also entirely possible to navigate and embrace a newfound sober lifestyle in rehab while embracing its efficacy from the beginning. 

Relapse is dangerous. It is not any kind of “requirement.” Yet, going through a relapse also does not mean that a person’s journey to sobriety is impossible, or that they are somehow “too addicted” to attain a sober future. Rather, rehab is an ongoing battle, and experiencing a slip or relapse can instead indicate that an individual simply needs to pivot in their recovery efforts. Refocusing on personal strategies or further developing certain skills can help to prevent similar situations or stresses from impacting their sobriety in the future. 

Finding the Right Program

The efficacy of any rehab program depends on a variety of factors. No two journeys to sobriety will be the same, and there are some strategies that will be more effective for some compared to others. Being able to personalize one’s recovery plan and create goals pertinent to each unique situation is a part of the recovery process. This cannot be measured except by those living through the need for change and sobriety themselves. 

Likewise, just because one program did not resonate with an individual does not mean that rehab as a whole is somehow impossible. Rather, an individual may look to a new outlet or approach to their recovery that may be more effective. 

Recovery is an incredibly effective tool for establishing sobriety, but not all rehab programs look the same. Rather, how effective rehab is for any one individual depends on their own goals and their ability to personalize their strategies and overcome their unique situation to create a truly transformed, sober future. 

Rehab is an incredibly effective way to address your use of drugs or alcohol. Deconstructing preconceived notions and ideas surrounding the practice is crucial for making the most of your time in detox, residential, or outpatient care. At Pacific Sands Recovery Center, we understand the need to personalize each and every recovery journey. We champion the idea that each individual can set their own goals for sobriety while working alongside peers and professionals alike to develop the personal skills for navigating each step of your journey. From medication-assisted treatment to individual, group, and experiential therapies, we are prepared to help you cope with the unique way in which addiction has affected your life. For more information on how we can personalize your time with us, or to speak to a caring, trained staff member about your unique situation, call us today at (714) 492-1119.

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