Life after rehab
A UBC expert discusses the rehab process and how those in recovery like Toronto Mayor Rob Ford can avoid a relapse
Michael Krausz, a professor in UBC’s Dept. of Psychiatry who specializes in addiction treatment, discusses the rehabilitation process and what recovering addicts need to do to stay sober long-term.
What’s typically involved in rehab?
Rehabilitation programs in the treatment of addiction are normally based on abstinence. After a detoxification, patients get the opportunity to reflect on their situation, identify possible risks and learn new coping skills in specialized psychosocial settings. Patients share experiences in groups and try to rebuild social networks and their individual support system.
Why do some people succeed in rehab while others fail? What are the keys to avoiding a relapse?
There is no one clear indicator for success in rehabilitation treatments. Contributing factors to stable recovery are existing resources, like being integrated into social networks and work, and having stable relationships with friends and family. Good quality care and support in the community are critical to long-term success. One reason addiction treatments often fail is because some patients have concurrent mental disorders that are not properly addressed.
What’s the latest research telling us about how to effectively treat addiction?
Effective treatment programs should provide sustainable long-term support addressing individual treatment goals. Abstinence is not the only appropriate direction in the treatment of addiction. Avoiding risk and reducing the level of consumption could be appropriate too.
Addiction is a chronic condition. If support is provided as early as possible and on an ongoing basis, recovery rates are much higher. Just addressing substance abuse is often not enough. Concurrent mental disorders need significant attention, because they are often a major reason for consumption.