What Makes a Good Rehab Program?

What Makes a Good Rehab Program?

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What makes a good rehab program for substance abuse and drug addiction recovery? There are a number of alternatives out there, from religious based programs to the traditional 12 step program of AA, to other strategies such as behavioral changes and so on. The bottom line is that the exact program that an addict uses to get clean and sober is of little importance compared to the dedication and willingness with which they attack their recovery. In other words, it is not the program they choose, but the way that they work it.

They have a saying in traditional 12 step recovery: “It works if you work it!” They are basically saying that if you apply the concepts of the program in your life, then you will stay clean and sober. This is undoubtedly true, but what most people do not realize is that this is true of any abstinence based program. Of course it will work if you work when the program is based on not using drugs and alcohol. There is no magic in this; no secret formula that is producing the outstanding results.

The 12 step program does not force a person to be sober. Instead, the person must choose sobriety, and then they use the 12 steps in order to help them create a new life, one that is worth living in recovery. It is a guide for living sober–not a sobriety inducing set of instructions. In other words, 12 step programs can support sobriety, but they cannot create it. The addict or alcoholic has to do that on their own. They must make the decision to be clean and sober, and then the 12 step program can help them to live with this decision.


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And so it is with any rehab program. What makes it work is the complete and total surrender of the addict, not the formula for sobriety contained within the program. What makes it work is the conviction of the alcoholic to stay sober and their willingness to change. Can a recovery program actually produce these qualities out of thin air? I think not. If someone is stuck in denial and is not willing to change, then there is no rehabilitation program in the world that can do anything for them. There are no magic tricks to inducing willingness and open mindedness.

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On the other hand, if someone is truly ready for change, and they have honestly surrendered to their addiction, then just about any program that teaches abstinence and positive action should work wonders. There is no magic formula….just a willingness to change and hard work.

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