Like any industry, the drug rehabilitation industry is continually evolving, and generally for the better.

One of the most significant changes is that the people who pay for drug rehab treatment — whether it is insurance companies, state agencies, parents, or the patients themselves — want proof that a particular program is going to work before they agree to pay for it.

As a result, in recent years there have been many scientific studies that are used as proof of effectiveness so that the administrators of drug rehab programs have “outcome-based evidence” to offer as proof that their programs provide the results people want.

Drug Rehab as an Ongoing Process

Another way drug rehab has evolved in recent years is the approach rehab professionals take to treatment. Most rehab providers now view drug rehab as an ongoing process rather than a one-time event.

In the past, the thinking was that if the addicted person can make it through the difficult withdrawal process, then they had cleared the biggest hurdle. While the rest of recovery steps may not be easy, at least they could be considered to be a “former drug addict” if the chemicals themselves had been physically purged from their system.

Most rehab professionals now acknowledge that withdrawal is only the first of many steps to full recovery. It may not even be the most difficult one. The former approach led to a higher recidivism rate. The more contemporary approach does a better job of helping people live longer, drug-free lives.

More Intensive Care

People who are addicted to drugs are more able to break the cycle of addiction if they participate in intensive treatment that lasts a minimum of 30 days. In many cases, in-patient residential treatment is required.

This contrasts with former drug treatment trends in which the individual was left to seek out counseling or meetings on their own once they made it past the withdrawal phase. New research indicates that withdrawal is not enough to break the addiction cycle. Most drug addicts require an intensive drug rehab program to overcome the psychological and emotional attachment they have to their addiction even after the physical bonds have been broken.

Most medical research now shows that people who stay in a residential drug rehab center for at least one month have a much higher chance of overcoming their addiction permanently.

Residential drug rehab centers allow recovery to take place in a structured, supportive environment where the patient can receive the intensive treatment they require without the distractions or temptations of their normal environment. People learn to live in a drug-free world as well as the coping skills they will need when they return to their normal life.

Encouraging Change

Another trend in drug rehab treatment is encouraging the recovering addict to make other changes in their life to eliminate the triggers that led to their addiction in the first place.

Many of today’s drug rehab treatment programs encourage deep lifestyle changes to facilitate a new life without drugs. People are taught new ways of coping with stress that don’t include narcotics. These can include major life changes such as a new career, the end of toxic relationships, creating new life goals, and embracing stress relieving activities such as meditation, physical fitness, and hobbies.

When people participate in intensive, residential drug treatment programs that last a minimum of 30 days, trained counselors can help guide the individual through these major changes in order to make the transition to a healthy, drug-free life smoother.

Underlying Psychological Issues

Many people who are addicted to drugs have underlying psychological issues that contribute or result in drug addiction. Often, these mental problems aren’t discovered until they participate in a drug rehab program where they can receive an assessment from mental health professionals.

Common underlying psychological issues include depression, eating disorders, attention deficit disorder, hyperactivity, bipolar disorder, and others. These conditions often require treatment that is separate from their drug rehab.

It Takes a Family

Another new trend in drug rehab treatment is recognition of the importance of the family in the recovery process.

Under outdated recovery models, people addicted to drugs underwent treatment to “get fixed”. Once they graduated from their programs, the expectation was that they would succeed on their own.

Today, most drug rehab professionals recognize that there is much more to recovery than a one-time correction. People live within complex systems of human groups. One of the most important of these is the family.

Familial dynamics often play an enormous role in the success or failure of the recovering addict. Changes are often required in the individual’s primary group dynamics if success is to be achieved. Families are encouraged to be more supportive and understanding of their loved one in order to facilitate the recovery process and prevent relapse.

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici/

Author Bio – This article is written by Stephen Schwartz on behalf of The Cabin, Asia’s leading outpatient drug rehab centre in Hong Kong.