Achieving and Sustaining Sobriety: Addressing Post-Discharge Time in Recovery

Lady Dancing due to Sustaining Recovery

Addiction is a chronic, psychological disorder. Like any other chronic diseases, such as heart disease, asthma or diabetes, treatment for substance use disorders (SUDs) is not inherently a cure. Sustaining recovery is possible with continued successful management of symptoms and risk factors.

In 2017, an estimated 20.7 million Americans, aged 12 and older, required treatment for a SUD. Yet, only 4 million (19 percent) of these individuals received treatment.

Around 10 percent of American adults, 18 years and older, report being in recovery from an alcohol or drug abuse issue.

Defining and understanding rehab success

There exists no standardized method of measuring the success of addiction centers and rehab programs. Success rates are mostly dependent on unreliable metrics such as the number of patients completing the program, sobriety rate immediately following treatment, patient feedback, and internalized surveys. The insidious nature of addiction further adds to this ambiguity.

A more accurate measure would be assessing the actual quality of care provided by a facility, during and after the formal treatment. Success rates need to account for sustainable sobriety followed up till the 6-month and 3-year mark.

Since many treatment centers do not follow up with their patient post-discharge, long-term sobriety is usually not taken into account.

Group of people comforting someone with sexual addictionThere are over 14,500 specialized substance abuse treatment facilities in the United States providing a variety of care options, including counseling, behavioral therapy, medication, case management, and other forms of care. Yet, addiction services are questioned for their efficacy.

Does relapse mean failure?

The chronic nature of addiction means that relapse merely is part of the process of recovery. Relapse rates for drug use resemble those for other chronic medical illnesses. The relapse rate for substance use disorders is estimated to range between 40 percent and 60 percent.

The treatment of chronic diseases is based upon modifying or breaking deeply ingrained behaviors that takes time and much effort. When a recovering patient relapses, it indicates resuming, adjusting or trying out another treatment.

Recovering through a holistic approach

The aim of addiction treatment is to inhibit the disruptive influence of addiction upon the brain and help patients regain control of their lives.

Traditional treatment programs are increasingly criticized for their one-dimensional approach toward addiction treatment, relying heavily on simply abstinence and placing the entire blame on the patient for relapsing.

The emergence of evidence-based treatments, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Motivational Interviewing and Contingency Management, in combination with medication-assisted treatments, are providing renewed hope.

These treatment options focus upon the unlearning of deteriorative behaviors and relearning to recognize, avoid and cope with stressful situations. Using positive reinforcement and involving family and friends through therapy sets a patient up with better chances of long-term recovery.

Medications help counteract the physical stresses and ease withdrawal symptoms. Continued therapy sessions help monitor the progress and maintain equilibrium in the recovering patient’s life.

College girlIt is important to realize that when it comes to addiction treatment, one size does not fit all.

Treatment needs to be tailored to each individual patient, taking into account their particular needs and characteristics.

Sustaining recovery

These more holistic approaches are observed to enhance success rates of a treatment program, but the following critical post-treatment years cannot be left unaddressed. Treatment alumni programs are one such solution for continued support and mentoring. Alumni programs provide accountability and allow individuals to remain actively involved in a supportive recovery community.

If you or a loved one are in recovery, it is essential to recognize that there is no magic treatment that will entirely cure addiction. With the right support and guidance, recovery can be attained and sustained. Rather than arbitrarily labeling successful treatment, focus on the importance of being grateful and appreciative of every day in recovery.



About the Author:

Sana Ahmed photoSana Ahmed is a journalist and social media savvy content writer with extensive research, print, and on-air interview skills. She has previously worked as staff writer for a renowned rehabilitation institute, a content writer for a marketing agency, an editor for a business magazine and been an on-air news broadcaster.

Sana graduated with a Bachelors in Economics and Management from the London School of Economics and began a career of research and writing right after. Her recent work has largely been focused upon mental health and addiction recovery.

The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of addictions. These are not necessarily the views of Addiction Hope, but an effort to offer a discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

We at Addiction Hope understand that addictions result from multiple physical, emotional, environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an addiction, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.

Published on March 29, 2019
Reviewed by Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on March 29, 2019
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About Baxter Ekern

Baxter Ekern is the Vice President of Ekern Enterprises, Inc. He contributed and helped write a major portion of Addiction Hope and is responsible for the operations of the website.