Blog post: Success rate and treatment

By Melissa Dobbertin, Alpha Home Admissions/Outpatient Program Director

Most people want to know just one thing about treatment – “Does treatment work?” Treatment centers are often asked this question another way – “What’s your success rate?”

We ask similar questions about other things, too. For example: “Is the medicine I’ve been prescribed going to work” or “If I sign up for gym membership will I become fit?”

We want guarantees, preferably rock solid 100% guarantees. But, we’re mostly reasonable people so we accept slightly lesser promises of success. 75-80% will normally satisfy us and convince us that the medicine is useful, the class will be good, and treatment works. So we proceed.

And then something happens and we become completely disillusioned and upset when things don’t turn out the way we hoped. Occasionally we lose faith completely and come to believe that the thing, whatever it is, is really not worth it and the statistics or success rate we were told are lies.

We get a flu shot and come down the flu. We sign up for yoga class to get rid of the stress headaches and we still get them. We eliminate caffeine and drink sleepy time tea before bedtime and still can’t get a good night’s rest. We send our son or daughter or even ourselves to treatment and then experience a relapse after we complete the program.

And we become non-believers.

So, how should we answer those questions: “Does treatment work?” “What’s the success rate?”

Well, the truth is that treatment works. Treatment has a 100% success rate and a 0% guarantee of success.

Treatment providers may not like or even agree with those statistics and I have to say here for full disclosure that these statistics are completely the opinion of this writer. There are no statistical studies or accumulated tracking reports or national databases to validate these statistics. Just my opinion.

Here’s why I say this.

100% of people who go to treatment and complete will successfully have been exposed to things that can help them stay clean and sober. It’s a 100% guarantee for any good treatment program because that’s what treatment does. Treatment teaches skills, provides knowledge, exposes ideas and sets a foundation to help a person succeed in recovery. However, going to treatment will never guarantee success. Treatment is not a cure any more than a flu shot or yoga or sleepy time tea.

Maybe the questions “does treatment work?” or “what is the success rate?” aren’t really the best questions to ask to understand or determine if treatment is worthwhile. Just because there is zero guarantee of success doesn’t mean treatment is not worth it or that treatment doesn’t work. After all, who can name one ‘best thing in life’ that comes with an iron clad guarantee of success?