What Percentage Of Substance Abusers Actually Receive Treatment?
Drug addiction is a very prominent problem in all demographics of American society. According to the annual National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) there are 20.8 million people (7.8 percent of the total population) who currently meet the criteria for a substance use disorder. Of these people, only 2.2 million (10.4% of the addicted population) received any type of treatment.
Of the 2.2 million substance abusers who seek treatment, NSDUH has analyzed which illicit substance are responsible for which percentage of admissions to publicly funded rehabs.
% Of Admissions Substance
23.1% Alcohol only
18.3% Alcohol + another drug
6.5% Stimulants (amphetamines)
5.9% Other opiates
0.4% Other drugs
How Many Drug Addicts or Alcoholics Successfully Complete Treatment?
This can be a difficult statistic to pinpoint, since successful treatment can be subjective. Additionally, there are a number of results that could be considered ‘successful’ completion of addiction treatment.
- Completion of a specialized program
- Maintenance of sobriety after the program
- Minimal relapse rates following treatment
- Further attempts to seek continued treatment (aftercare)
Perhaps it would be better to judge the success rate by observing how adequate the quality of a given substance abuse treatment program is. This can be evaluated both during and after the immediate rehab period – an inpatient rehab, that offers no skills to maintain sobriety after treatment, would have ‘successfully treated’ addicts return to drugs as soon as they left.
Some consider a relapse following a drug treatment to mean that the treatment was a failure. This isn’t necessarily true – relapse occurs often, and is part of recovery. Drug treatment and rehabilitation are ongoing processes that requires consistent evaluation and monitoring.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse compares the relapse rates of substance abusers with the relapse rates of diabetics and sufferers of asthma or hypertension. During treatment, symptoms will decrease in severity – as is to be expected.
Percentages of Patients Who Relapse
Type 1 diabetes – 30 to 50%
Drug Addiction – 40 to 60%
Hypertension – 50 to 70%
Asthma – 50 to 70%
With all of these disorders, following cessation of treatment, relapse rates are quite high – which goes to show that substance rehabilitation treatment is an ongoing process that cannot really be deemed to have succeeded or failed, unless the addict has completely disregarded their treatment and any future possibility of seeking sobriety.
Another way to identify a potentially successful treatment is by the quality of aftercare provided by the program. This can ensure that the patient is looked after for long enough to see that their rehabilitation proves successful, by checking up with the user and making sure they continue avoiding triggers, relapses, and negative situations associated with their substance use problems. Such aftercare treatment might include
- Introducing their clients to ongoing support groups and long-term counseling
- Suggesting that clients spend longer in treatment than initially deemed necessary
- Proper education for the client’s loved ones and family members so the addict is not fighting the battle themselves
- Offering a wide range of different treatment options – group therapy, individual counseling, family therapy
With Determination to Succeed, Substance Abuse Treatment Can’t Fail
When you consider substance abuse disorders as similar to a recurring disease, treatment will never really fail. Unless abandoned, treatment will just continue reduce symptoms of relapse and remission for the duration of treatment. Some facilities tout as a marketing ploy that their rehabs boast ninety-percent success rates, but a successful treatment can be an ambiguous idea.
What conditions satisfy “recovery?” Is it simply abstinence? If so, for how long? Does a relapse indicate a failed recovery, or is it part of the process? These questions prove that there are so many variables in the equation of recovery that ultimately, the success rate of rehab is entirely subjective. If you set goals and accomplish them through rehabilitation, then you’ve succeeded.