Residential Rehab Only Helpful in the Short Term for Meth Users, Study Finds

Community-based residential rehabilitation programs are only helpful in the short term for methamphetamine users, a new study suggests. Shorter detoxification programs are even less successful, Reuters reports.

While about half of the study participants were able to stop using meth after they joined a residential rehabilitation program, most had gone back to using the drug after three years, the study found.

Few addiction treatment programs are designed specifically for methamphetamine users, according to lead researcher Rebecca McKetin of the Australian National University. Instead, people often go through programs meant for people using heroin or alcohol.

She compared long-term methamphetamine use in 248 people in a rehab program, and 112 in a detox program, with 101 meth users who were not in treatment. People in residential rehab generally live for several months at a treatment center that offers counseling, as well as social and recreational activities. People enrolled in a detox program usually spend a few days at a hospital or other medical facility.

After three months, 48 percent of those who went through rehab remained abstinent, compared with 15 percent of those who went through detox or who did not receive any treatment.

At one year, 20 percent of meth users who went through rehab were still not using the drug, compared with 7 percent of people in the other two groups. By three years, only 12 percent of those who went through rehab still were not using meth, compared with 5 percent of the others.

The study is published in the journal Addiction.

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    August 2, 2012 at 12:16 PM

    That sounds pretty good to me – 12% after 3 years abstinent is far better than any other form of treatment for Meth. Why not give the success rates for other forms of treatment programme (non-residential for example or rehab at home)? Most rehab programmes’ success rates are measured based on one year sober/drug free = success. Longer term studies are less representative or accurate as it is often very hard to keep track of those who relapse or die. Detox alone is hardly ever going to be successful as it is largely only dealing with the physical side of addiction and not the mental aspects. I’m surprised 15% remained abstinent from just a detox – I wonder what else was happening in their ‘recovery’ life? Did they have ongoing support? Did they attend regular fellowship meetings? Did they have a sponsor (essential in my book)? Did they have family support? Did they have a reason for remaining abstinent such as a young child of dependent relative?
    I’m afraid this report suffers from not comparing like with like and being highly superficial, and the headline really doesn’t match the report or do any favours for all those highly successful rehabs doing a great job for thousands of addicts.

    We need a lot more information about the ‘candidates’; their backgrounds, ages, length of use, previous treatment history, family or other support, etc.
    And whilst the treatment for Meth does need certain specialist skills, most clinics should be capable of treating most forms of addiction including Methamphetamine addiction, and in the UK they are certainly not just for Heroin and Alcohol users! What rubbish. My company has put many Meth users into general addiction clinics and their success rates (in excess of 75%) are widely similar to other addictions except eating disorders (45% approx) and gambling (30% approx)where success rates appear much lower.

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