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Is Rehab Right for Me?

Determining whether rehab is right for your treatment needs.

Don’t go it alone. To determine whether rehab is the right option for you, it’s important to get professional advice. Get an independent assessment of your treatment needs by a licensed professional — one who specializes in substance use problems but is not connected with or employed by a treatment center.

Your primary care physician may be able to perform the assessment or refer you to someone who can. Ask for a clinician who has been trained in substance use treatment and has earned the following credentials:

  • Physician (M.D.) – the American Board of Addiction Medicine has a doctor locator

  • Licensed psychologist (Ph.D. or Psy.D.) – the American Psychological Association Practice Association has a doctor locator

  • Licensed clinical social worker (LCSW), marriage and family therapist (LMFT), or mental health counselor (LMHC, LPC, or LCMHC)

  • Addiction counselor who is licensed (meets state requirements) or certified (meets the requirements of professional certification boards)

Consider your personal needs

If you are considering rehab, you may find yourself overwhelmed with questions. Beyond your doctor’s assessment of your treatment needs, you will want to consider costs, insurance coverage, your ability to travel, and how your decision will affect your family, job, and personal life. 

You also will need to determine which type of rehab is right for you, and particularly whether to have outpatient care by appointment or inpatient care, living at a treatment center.

Inpatient rehab is one of the most intensive treatment options. It’s effective for people with moderate to severe addiction, or those who need treatment for physical or mental health conditions in addition to their substance use problem.

Give yourself the time you need

To make your treatment decision, you may be wondering how long you’ll need to commit to rehab. There is no one right answer.

Your program length is one of the most important indicators of how successful your treatment will be. The most common program length is 28 days, but many patients need much longer for their treatment to be effective. In fact, inpatient and outpatient treatment programs are more successful when individuals participate for 90 days or more. In one study, about half of those undergoing a typical 30-day treatment program were still off drugs and alcohol after one year. But the majority of patients (over 80 percent) who participated in a treatment program lasting more than 30 days were substance-free one year later.

Defining success: It’s more than detox

Rehab isn’t just about getting off drugs or alcohol. Therapy is the key to long-term success. Most rehab programs include therapy — both in groups and individually — along with counseling, which can help patients improve their relationships with loved ones. Therapy will also give you tools to figure out and overcome the triggers that lead you to drink or use drugs. Recovery is a lifelong process of working on those relationships and using those tools to increase your chances of getting — and staying — clean and sober.

Staying sober after relapse

A relapse — temporarily using drugs or alcohol after rehab — doesn’t mean your treatment failed. About half of people in recovery have relapses. This is similar to rates of relapse for other chronic diseases, such as asthma or diabetes. Treatment for substance misuse involves changing deeply imbedded behaviors, and a return to drugs or alcohol only means the treatment needs to be restarted or re-assessed.

Learn from your experiences. What made your recovery easier? What worked? What made it more difficult? Were there particular triggers or situations that made you want to use again? What can you do differently this time?

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