Why Drug Addicts Fail Drug Rehab


The number of patients seeking help from a drug rehabilitation facility is on the rise. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reports that over a million people sought treatment for substance abuse in 2011 – that is an increase of 7.8 percent over a five year period. A certain number of those individuals will go back to using eventually. Why is the drug rehab process effective for some, but a failure for others?


Denial is a large part of the problem. Addicts don’t always see drug use as a concern. They enter rehab to satisfy their family or as part of a court mandated program. Recovery takes work, and a person unwilling to recognize their addiction will not put that effort into beating it. Once they leave the facility, they end up slipping deeper into the addictive cycle.


Not all people can afford the level of rehab they need. This means they settle for an outpatient program when residential care is the most promising option, or they stay in a treatment facility for a shorter time than necessary to get healthy. Insurance companies and employers are beginning to see the benefits of offering longer, more substantial treatment right from the start. One extensive treatment cycle costs less than repeated attempts and the long-term health problems associated with drug abuse.

Poor Attitude

A bad attitude is a deal breaker in a drug rehabilitation program. Some addicts know they have an illness but refuse to believe it is that big of a problem. Others let negative thoughts interfere with their ability to change. These clients end up fighting with other residents and the staff. That negativity spreads to everyone in sessions, as well.

Lack of Responsibility

Part of the rehabilitation process is owning up to the addiction and taking responsibility for the harm it causes both, the addict and family members. Inner reflection is an obstacle in most situations. This lack of responsibility translates to their recovery program. They show up late for meetings or chronically miss counseling sessions, for example.


Drug addiction is both, a physical and psychological problem. For this reason, relapse rates are high – between 50 to 90 percent depending on the type of addiction and the length of treatment. For instance, a heroin addict requires comprehensive treatment because the physical side effects of withdrawal are so intense, and alcohol addiction is a chronic relapsing disorder.

Even in a high-security facility, a motivated addict can find a way to use. The strong physical craving takes over, and they look for ways to get access to any drug that will get them high. Relapsing during treatment is common. If that happens, the current treatment cycle will not work. They must start over again, probably at a different facility. In many treatment centers, using is grounds for dismissal.

Influence of Family and Friends

A strong support system with everyone on the same page is an asset to someone tackling addiction. If the family is divided, some members will take the side with an addict in denial and add to the problem. It is difficult to move towards acceptance, and twice as hard if someone on the outside is influencing this person. That is why many facilities limit the client’s access to outside contact during the initial stages of a recovery program.

Substance abuse is a chronic illness, and one trip to rehab is not always enough. The numbers are improving, however. More people are seeing the wisdom in getting professional help for their problem – that awareness will eventually lead to more effective programs and better results during treatment.



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