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Description: One of the most common treatments for drug and alcohol issues is rehab. It is likely you heard of one celebrity or another checking themselves into rehab in order to try and deal with substance issues. Rehab typically involves residential treatment in which the person goes and stays somewhere for a potentially extended period of time during which they receive treatment for substance abuse issues. Are you aware of any research about the effectiveness of the sorts of programs (including programs like AA?). Think about what you’ve heard or believe you are aware of with regards to the effectiveness of the sorts of programs (not just how the celebrities of the world are doing) and then read the article linked below for an overview of research into their effectiveness.

Source: Drug Rehab and Group Therapy: Do they work? Julaine Allan, The Conversation.

Date: November 17, 2016


Photo Credit:  Horrible Bosses 2 – “Group Therapy” Clip YouTube screenshot

Links:  Article Link —

So, is there anything surprising to you in the linked article above? Did you know, for example, that Alcoholics Anonymous forbids the conducting of outcome research related to its participants? It does and it is worth thinking about why that might be. Likewise, it can be difficult to decide how to formally evaluate other forms of rehab. Is it enough, for example, to know the proportion of people who actually complete their stays in the rehab programs that they attend? Or, is it more important to know about the long-term effectiveness of these forms of treatment program looking at how people are doing a year or two after having completed their stays in rehab? As the author of the article linked above notes, the bottom line seems to be that about two thirds of people who get some form of treatment for drug and alcohol issues seem to be doing better when looked at three years after they participated in some form of treatment program. So while relapse rates are high, there is reason to hope that many people struggling with drug and alcohol addictions can find support and potentially some effective treatment but it is important that long-term treatment outcome statistics be considered along with costs when choosing a program.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What are the ranges of outcome statistics for the variety of treatment programs mentioned in the article linked above?
  2. What are some of the reasons that might possibly explain the variability in treatment outcome rates across the variety of treatment programs that are available?
  3. What do you think some of the implications might be the effectiveness of treatment programs if the people were ordered to attend as a result of legal action as opposed to voluntarily attending treatment programs?

References (Read Further):

Dennis, M., & Scott, C. K. (1999). Managing addiction as a chronic condition. People.

Amato, L., Mitrova, Z., & Davoli, M. (2013). Cochrane systematic reviews in the field of addiction: past and future. Journal of EvidenceBased Medicine, 6(4), 221-228.

Meier, P. S., & Best, D. (2009). Programme factors that influence completion of residential treatment. Drug and alcohol review.

Yates, R. (2011). Therapeutic communities: can-do attitudes for must-have recovery. Journal of Groups in Addiction & Recovery, 6(1-2), 101-116.