Yes, treatment can work. Addiction should be thought of like other chronic illnesses with a behavioral component such as hypertension and diabetes. When compared to these diseases, we find similar rates of remission or recovery, and relapse – around 50 to 60 percent of people who receive treatment succeed after completing their program. But some people may need to go through treatment more than once for all the recovery lessons to set in and take hold long-term. After all, behavioral change is very difficult, whether it’s eating less, exercising more, or quitting smoking, drinking, or using drugs.
When drug treatment providers talk about recovery, however, we are looking for more than just abstinence. Stopping drug use is certainly part of recovery, but so is building the skills, behaviors, and attitudes to support a drug-free lifestyle. These include attitudes and values like honesty, caring for others, a willingness to give back, and gratitude.