5 Reasons Your Drug Rehab didn’t Work


Embarking on drug rehab can be life-changing, helping you to regain control of your health, lifestyle and relationships. Taking drugs changes your functioning and behaviour, so rehab treatment must alter these effects to re-engage your positive thinking and make long term life changes. This process can take time, which is why rehab offers an intensive level of residential support. However, it can be disheartening if you find that rehab didn’t work for you. Rehab can be successful in treating any drug addiction, including prescription drugs, cocaine, ecstasy, cannabis, ketamine, spice and opiate addiction, sometimes there are specialist rehabs needed such as heroin rehabilitation (these are the largest substance misuse group). There are many reasons that could have contributed to your drug rehab not working, which will be explained below.

  • No specialist therapist during treatment

Drug addiction is complex, so it requires treatment from specialist therapists. Some prescribed therapy settings may not use professionals who are trained specifically in addiction, which can hinder treatment success rates. The therapists will be trained in their specific type of therapy but may lack experience in using therapies with people recovering from drug addiction. This can often be the case in free addiction treatment programmes because of the lack of public health funding. Private treatment providers often have a team of professionals that have specific addiction treatment experience that offers the additional level of technical and emotional support required.

  • Not being ready for rehab

You must be willing and ready to accept support for addiction treatment to work. If you entered rehab and felt that you shouldn’t be there, you may not have been ready for rehab. Rehab provides a full treatment programme but it requires your commitment and engagement to be successful. Rehab is all about change and requires an open mindset to be willing to engage and embrace the support provided. Some people may feel ready for rehab early in their addiction, whereas others may feel they need to reach rock bottom before they feel a change in attitude. Once you accept that you need help, your treatment has a greater chance of success.  

  • Not engaging with aftercare

Leaving rehab can be overwhelming, and you may find that triggers in your lifestyle influence your drug-taking. Being reintroduced to these after your treatment can initiate feelings of wanting to take drugs again. Most private rehab clinics will provide aftercare programmes specifically created to help with these challenges. They often consist of a mixture of group support and professional advice, and long-term recovery from addiction can depend on how well you continue to engage with the aftercare. If you are feeling vulnerable or worried after rehab, use the peer and professional aftercare provided and join local support groups to help avoid relapse.

  • Relapse can be common

Although drug treatment aims to prevent relapse, it can just be a part of the recovery journey for some people. Although it is a difficult concept to acknowledge, it can be common for someone to try rehab several times until they are able to abstain from addictive substances. At times, this can be due to incorrect treatment, but it can also be due to the chronic nature of addiction. It is widely accepted that the earlier you seek help, the greater chance of successful recovery, but addiction affects each person differently. Some people with a long history of substance misuse may only require one period of rehab, whereas another person may require many rehab attempts. 

  • You may need an alternative treatment plan

Jason Shiers Certified Psychotherapist of Wide World Coaching says “Each person battling addiction will have different challenges and circumstances to overcome”. You may have difficult family relationships to repair or be struggling with a dual diagnosis of drug addiction and mental health issues. Some treatment providers may only offer a small number of treatments, or a short rehab stay, which will be unable to resolve all of your challenges. Holistic and longer treatment programmes are encouraged so that each area of your life that is affected by addiction can be treated. This will ensure that you receive support for each area of difficultly in your life and be better equipped to overcome challenges outside of rehab.

Drug rehab can be challenging, but it offers life-changing support. It can support anybody who is struggling with addiction to abstain from taking harmful substances and make positive changes in their life. If you have received unsuccessful rehab treatment, we strongly advise that you try rehab again. Treatment for drug addiction can take a long time to accomplish, and the recovery process continues outside of rehab. Recognising that you need support is a sign of progress in your recovery journey, and we encourage you to continue to seek help whenever you need it.