What Are The Success Rates for Drug Rehab?

By: Lakeview Health Staff
Published: February 23, 2021

Whether you or a loved one is struggling with a substance use disorder, you’ve probably wondered about the success rates for drug addiction treatment. What kinds of outcomes should you expect? Is one treatment better than the other? Do certain substances have higher success rates than others?

How Do You Measure Addiction Treatment Success Rates?

What Is Considered ‘Successful?’ 

To first determine the success of drug addiction treatment, it is essential to define what success actually means. Abstinence, which refers to the complete avoidance of mood-altering substances, is the obvious answer. After all, abstinence means that the person has obtained sobriety from drugs and alcohol. That said, abstinence isn’t always a simple concept. For example, what if the person is receiving medicated-assisted treatment (MAT)? Moreover, does a lapse or relapse instantly disqualify someone as being ‘successful’ in their recovery journey? Addiction, of course, is complicated, and many experts struggle to define true success in recovery. The answer to one person may vary dramatically from someone else.

Why Obtaining Treatment Can Be So Challenging

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), nearly 22 million Americans over age 12 needed substance use treatment in 2015. To concretize that figure, about 8% of the population required help for a drug or alcohol addiction. In that group, young adults (ages 18-25) were most needing treatment.1 Both legal and illicit opioids continue to ravage and perpetuate the American addiction epidemic. The U.S Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that 114 people die every day from a drug overdose.2 Overdoses on prescription opioids account for nearly 70% of ER opioid visits, and heroin and other nonprescription drugs make up for the remainder of such visits. In 2015, an estimated 2.3 million people received treatment at a specialty facility. That is only about 10% of the people who needed treatment. Research from SAMHSA showed that adults aged 26 or older were the most likely to receive treatment, and adolescents were the least likely. 

Securing treatment can be challenging for a variety of reasons. First, many people do not perceive their drug or alcohol use as problematic. They may believe they can reduce or quit their intake on their own—that specialized treatment is not necessary for recovery. Others struggle with obstacles related to finances, employment, or young children depending on them. Many people either do not have health insurance or are unaware of the benefits for addiction treatment that their health insurance policy may have. Some struggling with addiction have burned bridges with family members, friends, or employers and lack financial support. Additionally, when people do seek treatment, they may face tremendous fear about potentially relapsing after completion. Due to these complicated emotions, those individuals may struggle to reach out for support.

How to Locate and Identify Appropriate Treatment

There’s no doubt that treatment has its relevant and much-needed place in today’s society. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports that America spends a staggering $600 billion annually on substance abuse.3 Specialized treatment can mitigate some of these costs, and it is undoubtedly a less costly option than alternatives, such as incarceration. NIDA states that every dollar invested in treatment yields a return between $4-$7 in reduced addiction-related crime. That said, finding the right treatment is not as simple as engaging in a basic Google search or scanning through Yelp reviews. Unfortunately, very few programs actually display or share data relevant to their efficacy. Most anyone can open and start a privately-owned treatment center and standardizing an appropriate level of care has been an arduous process. One effective way to locate treatment though is to complete a Drug and Alcohol evaluation through a certified state agency, from there they will then be able to assess what level of care is appropriate for the individual and assist in locating a treatment facility.   

Quality Staff and Services 

When first starting your search, you want to look at who works at the treatment center. Who will be on your treatment team? Some unqualified centers simply hire anyone. You want to avoid falling into that dangerous trap, and you want to see the appropriate licenses and credentials. This means psychiatrists, registered nurses, psychologists, and licensed therapists or social workers. These professionals have extensive training in understanding the complexities of both mental health and addiction treatment. Moreover, what will your average day in treatment look like? Will you be receiving psychotherapy? Will you be participating in evidence-based groups related to relapse prevention, coping skills, and healthy living? Are you going to spend the majority of your time receiving appropriate clinical services? You should always feel comfortable asking questions to your team. A quality center will encourage your participation in treatment. They will also be willing to work with you to ensure that your needs are getting met. Reputable facilities understand that treatment alone does not cure or fix addiction and will have a strong focus on aftercare. It is imperative to continue some level of outpatient treatment after discharging from a residential environment.  After you discharge, it can be difficult to follow up with or even locate outpatient treatment on your own.  A strong treatment program will make sure that aftercare is set and in place prior to a patient discharging. Many treatment centers also offer alumni services to their clients. Alumni services can include certified recovery coaching, local and virtual support groups, outings and celebrations, and ongoing social and family support. An alumni connection provides a sense of community for clients. This sense of community can be one of the best assets for recovery.   

Accreditation and Credentials 

Finally, you want to learn about the facility’s credentials. As mentioned, anyone can open a treatment center. However, upstanding facilities have upstanding credentials that indicate they provide the highest standards of client care. The Joint Commission is the nation’s oldest and largest accreditation facility for healthcare. To date, it is considered one of the ‘gold standards’ for quality addiction treatment. The Joint Commission has a vast range of requirements that cover client rights and education, medication management, and competent staff. Lakeview Health prides itself on adhering to the highest standards of medical care and is accredited by the Joint Commission. It also holds several other licenses and certifications in regulatory and recovery treatment.

Understanding Addiction Recovery Rates

Finding precise answers to addiction recovery rates remains a struggle. While some people share their recovery stories, others may minimize or avoid questions about sobriety altogether. Research examining 28 longitudinal studies of long-term opioid use revealed that 30% of individuals reported abstinence in a 10-year follow-up study for individuals seeking treatment for Opioid Use Disorder. Most of those individuals did require several treatment episodes before obtaining sobriety.4 

SAMHSA shows that the relapse rates for individuals with substance use disorders mimic those of other medical conditions, such as asthma and hypertension, with 40-60% of patients relapsing.5 With relapse being a normal part of recovery, this does not mean that the person has failed. However, it may mean that he or she needs a different form of treatment or support. Several factors may impede recovery, including:


Understanding A Treatment Center Success Rates

Both the participation in formal treatment and longer time in treatment have been positively associated with improved recovery outcomes. Research also indicates that post-treatment affiliation with support groups (such as 12-step fellowships) is also beneficial in aiding recovery.6 These studies have found that the following prosocial factors can also improve one’s success rates:

  • Having a clear commitment to abstinence
  • The sense of having “something to lose” (partner, employment, health)
  • A feeling of positive social support from family and friends

If you are thinking about getting sober, it’s reasonable to engage in some research before entering treatment. In doing this research, you might stumble upon the FAQ section with a question about the center’s success rates. As a general rule of thumb, you should be cautious of any center that guarantees a certain success rate. If a center boasts that they have a 100% success rate, this is a clear sign that the center is using deceitful tactics to obtain clients. After all, nobody can guarantee a 100% success rate for anything. There is no doubt that addiction is complex. Some relapses occur immediately after treatment. However, many relapses occur several months or years after completing a program. It is nearly impossible to keep track of such clients. Therefore, it is difficult to assign a true “number” to the success rates of any facility. Relapse does not necessarily mean that treatment was a failure. Many experts agree that treatment often includes continued ongoing monitoring and evaluation. Lapses do not indicate total failures—instead, they may indicate the need for changing care or treatment. As an informed consumer, you should always feel free to ask the treatment center about client success rates. How do they handle relapse if it does occur? What kind of aftercare or alumni services do they provide? In other words, how does the facility create a safe and supportive environment that fosters a positive image of sobriety? Remaining engaged in a program’s alumni or aftercare services can allow for openness and honesty surrounding a relapse. This creates a nurturing environment to get right back up and reengaged in your recovery. 

Contact Us Today 

At Lakeview Health, we are passionate about providing our clients with a viable path towards hope and healing. We offer several different specialty programs to provide the highest quality of care for our clients. Moreover, we work with renowned experts and utilize evidence-based therapies to ensure that you receive top-notch treatment during your stay. Learn more about how our admissions process works by contacting us today.


  1. https://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/report_2716/ShortReport-2716.html
  2. https://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/health/opioid-related-er-visits-due-prescription-drugs-study-article-1.1990163
  3. https://nida.nih.gov/sites/default/files/drugfacts_understandingaddiction.pdf