I Am Addicted 2

Only 5% Of Addicts In Recovery Make It, Baloney, Addiction Treatment Works: Here Are The Facts

Posted on: September 2, 2011


I get so angry when sometimes well-intentioned people will make statements to the effect of only 5%, 10% of the people make it in . How disheartening for somebody who’s trying to turn their life around to statements like that. Why not focus on the fact that addiction treatment works.

Just today I attended a conference and Dr. Lewis Baxter Sr was the keynote speaker. He is the president of the American Society of Addiction Medicine known in the field as ASAM. He provided some rather heartening statistics. But these have to be qualified. He was speaking of people who have gone through a “full treatment experience”. A full treatment experience includes:

1. Detoxification

2. Rehabilitation

3. Maintenance

These are patients who received a full assessment, and an accurate diagnosis of their condition. They’d gone through proper detoxification and/or medical maintenance. Rehabilitation – means therapy and addiction counseling. Aftercare and continuing care refers to ongoing treatment with social support such as a 12 step program and/or continued therapy throughout the year.

Two separate peer-reviewed, empirical studies* showed these statistics:

For people who I gone through a full treatment experience:

The general population at a recovery rate of 77% at one year.

For those who had gone through detoxification in rehab only the recovery rate was 33% at one year.

For those who underwent detox only, the recovery rate was less than 10%.adiction recovery4

Now before I get a ton of e-mails saying those statistics don’t sound right I ask you to look at the qualifications very carefully. For instance, in my experience as an  therapist when I see a patient who has relapsed, and I inquire about their follow-through on aftercare about 90% of them say that they did not follow through. That explains the big drop in the recovery rate to only 33% when continuing care recommendations are not followed after they leave their initial phase of treatment.

I can also anecdotally tell you that I have had patients tell me ‘I’ve been to 10 treatments’ and when asked how long each treatment was, they say ‘about two days’. There is an erroneous belief for some that detox is the same as treatment. Detox is certainly not treatment it as simply medical stabilization.

Now the one thing I firmly believe about statistics is that when it comes to addiction recovery they are inherently accurate. I believe that it is the individual’s action determine their success in addiction recovery not the random allocation percentages are statistics.

*(Gaber,Davidson,1992; Mclellan 2002)

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