Addiction Treatment Success: Can It Be Duplicated?


There’s a wonderful statistic that should be better known among addiction treatment specialists: an amazing 80 percent complete abstinence rate in the treatment population, as measured over a five-year period.

That's an astounding four out of five substance-free people who undergo addiction treatment, with some of the other 20 percent testing positive just once.

Who is doing so well in treatment? Medical professionals – specifically, physicians. According to an article in Psychology Today, medical professionals have an extraordinarily high success rate when they are treated for addiction and substance abuse.

Techniques worth emulating

  • Early confrontation. Bring the addiction out in the open. This triggers a support network where friends, family and coworkers all know about the problem and contribute with support. Doctors are also faced, right away, with a serious choice – to either quit being a doctor or quit the drugs.
  • Business as usual. Doctors maintain the better parts of their lives by continuing to work and earn money as long as they can maintain abstinence.
  • Continuous testing. This leaves little opportunity to secretly return to addiction behaviors. There is little chance they can use and not get caught. This certainty tends to keep everyone honest.
  • Quality treatment. Most patients undergo three months as an inpatient, and the rest receive intensive outpatient treatment. Both are followed up with long-term support and attention. This aftercare usually includes regular counseling “check-ups,” 12-step meetings and drug testing.

Why don’t we do this more often?

The short answer is that it is expensive. Medical professionals have a few advantages: the financial resources available and a valuable license to protect. Doctors also come with a knowledge base and training that can help guide them along – the mechanisms of addiction are not a mystery to them. And perhaps just as important as the money and the education level, most are valued members of the community and are considered worthy of saving. This combination means their support network can be very powerful.

The elements that can be duplicated in general addiction treatment situations ought to be. These numbers should be the norm instead of surprising.


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