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Success Rate To Long Term Treatment

What is the success rate to long term treatment? Short term treatment seems to not do the trick when it comes to heroin addiction. The day before my boyfriend left for long term (residential) treatment, I learned he had stolen from me to get high – even though he claims to have been sober for months. He is in a 90 day program, but I am unsure if this is something that will continue after his care. My boyfriend has few to no people to lean on and if there is a higher success rate with long term treatment, I know there has to be willingness on his end. He seems to want to get help, but things aren't always what they seem.


Addiction is a chronic relapsing medical condition.  Many family members are not aware of the progression of the disease.  Family members often believe that if a client goes to treatment they should be cured upon discharge.  Unfortunately, like many other chronic health care conditions this is simply not true.  All residential placements should be followed by a step down program like intensive outpatient or outpatient treatment.  The reality is that long term treatment often demonstrates stronger results for the patient.  However, currently with the onset of managed care and Medicaid managed care long term programs are usually not readily available which is why step down programs are critical.  Sponsorship is another critical ingredient for successful recovery.  Research clearly demonstrates that sponsorship is as important as is treatment.  Relapse is often imminent if there is not a sponsor.  You mention that your boyfriend has few people to rely on.  This is often the case with individuals with long term addiction.  Addicts prefer to surround themselves by others who are not as critical about their addiction and begin to alienate from those close to them.  There is much hope when a patient is eager to want treatment, but that motivation does wax and wane over time.  Support groups remain crucial.

Addiction harms not only the user but the entire family unit.  An addict’s need to feed their disease can lead them to behave in hurtful ways toward the very ones they love and those who are trying to help them.  Nar-Anon provides group support to relatives and friends who are concerned about the addiction or drug problem of another and has a convenient ‘Find a meeting by location'tool where you can meet others who understand what you are going through.

The fact that your boyfriend has enrolled in a 90 day program is encouraging because the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) says most addicted individuals need at least 3 months of treatment to significantly reduce or stop their drug use.  For most addicts, a treatment program must be customized to their individual needs and include enough time to: 1) recover from the profound physical effects of addictive drugs on their body and 2) learn and adopt the life skills needed to stay drug-free once they leave the program.  As far as staying sober once your boyfriend leaves treatment, many effective programs include family members in the patient’s recovery & therapy, including Haymarket outpatient programs. Drug addiction is a chronic illness, and therefore relapses into drug abuse can occur and signal a need for treatment to be reinstated or adjusted. Treatment often requires several attempts – it takes on average 6-7 different treatment attempts over a course of years before someone can reach a period of sustained recovery of a year or longer.  The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports relapse rates for drug addiction (40-60%) are similar to those of other chronic illnesses, such as Type I diabetes (30-50%), hypertension (50-70%) and asthma (50-70%).

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