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There are a variety of drug addiction treatment options, but the main focus of all of them lie in pharmacological and behavioral treatment. Because drug addiction is complex, most facilities aim to take a holistic approach that looks at the whole person and tackles the addiction and it’s ripple effects from many angles.

Two key factors are components that focus on the drug use and physical addiction, and that focus on reabsorbing the individual into their family units, restoring friendships and employment, and adjusting them back to community life, the National Institute on Drug Abuse explains.

For more on addiction treatment, see: Dual Diagnosis Treatment Highly Effective Yet Rarely Offered

Physical detoxification from the drug the individual has been on is only the first stage of treatment. “Detoxification alone does not address the psychological, social, and behavioral problems associated with addiction and therefore does not typically produce lasting behavioral changes necessary for recovery. Detoxification should thus be followed by a formal assessment and referral to drug addiction treatment,” the National Institute of Health (NIH) says.

Overall, it is a long, but possible, path to recovery from drug addiction. The NIH has said that recovery from drug addiction is akin to recovery from solely physical ailments such as hypertension or asthma – relapse is actually common. It takes a strong team of professionals and honest relationship-building between practitioners and the suffering individual to develop a holistic treatment plan that not only sticks, but improves quality of life to the point where temptation to return to the drug is not appealing.

Like hypertension and asthma, drug addiction requires ongoing treatment. Relapses are common and should not be a sign of failure. For example, relapse for those with hypertension or asthma is at 50-70%; drug addiction relapse is at 40-60%.

But what are the rates of recovery? Much of research focuses on recovery at no more than 2 years after treatment – only evaluating short-term successes. But research has been done about which factors contribute the most to long-standing sobriety. Surveying a pool of respondants who had been sober anywhere from 5 months to 36 years, an article in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs reported the following as the most significant experiences that helped individuals start and maintain recovery:

  1. Escalating consequences of substance abuse: 46%
  2. Support of peers, family and friends: 30%
  3. 12-step fellowships: 26%
  4. Substance-related accident, arrest or legal trouble: 22%
  5. Treatment and professional help: 22%
  6. Personal commitment to recovery: 16%
  7. Birth of a child and wanting to be a responsible parent: 10%
  8. Spirituality and belief in a higher power: 10%

An important consideration to note is that many respondents provided more than one answer, as several factors played a role in their recovery. This is key: a multidimensional approach is most effective in keeping addiction at bay, and support from outside of the individual’s own willpower can be exceptionally effective.