There are many celebrities whose stories we read about in the news who go in and out of drug rehab. Their relationship to drugs and alcohol seem ongoing and they can’t seem to break away once and for all. Whitney Houston, Amy Winehouse, Robert Downey Jr., and others reveal the tumultuousness of addiction. And there are many others who repeat rehab, get sober, but find themselves returning again and again.

How does one finally break the cycle?

Well, first you should know that most experts agree that for those who struggle with addiction, about 50% of them go through rehab 2 or 3 times until they’re done for good. And for those who seem to be able to go through drug rehab only once, many of them have had an extensive amount of support through outpatient services first.

One owner of an addiction treatment center reported seeing a trend of about 30% of his clients returning for a second journey through rehab. It’s very common that a person who is addicted to drugs or alcohol return. This is an indication that the experience is hard to break! And the second or third time around is certainly not a waste of time or money. In fact, it might be the very experience that helps bring the addiction to an end.

Healing from addiction requires an entire lifestyle change. It requires a new way of coping with thoughts, feelings, and triggers. It requires a new view of the world and a new view of yourself. For this reason, it might very easily require 2 or 3 times through rehab to fully integrate the changes that sobriety requires.

Another note to make clear is that the very fact you are in treatment means that you’re getting help! You’re gathering the support you need around you. You are making sure that you have the help you need to finally end the addiction. This is not the case for many people. For instance, a study administered by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA), revealed that 23.5 million individuals suffered from an illicit drug abuse or alcohol problem in 2009. Sadly, only 11.2% ( 2.1 million people) obtained the help they need for their addiction. SAMHSA also reports that about 23% of those in publicly funded substance abuse programs sought treatment for alcohol abuse. About 18% sought assistance for addiction to both alcohol and a drug. And about 17% got help for smoking marijuana. About 40% of those seeking drug treatment wanted to end their addiction to heroin, cocaine, and opiates, among others.

If you’ve been through rehab more than 3 times, perhaps there is an underlying reason for the continued use of drugs or alcohol. These are some common reasons that can trigger relapse into addiction again:

  • –untreated mental illness (such as depression or anxiety)
  • –unresolved trauma or emotional wound (which can be worked through in therapy)
  • –instability (not having a secure home or not knowing money for food and other basic needs)


If you suspect that you have any of the above, contact a mental health provider for support. As for the instability, there are many social service agencies that provide services to get people back on their feet. If you’ve been in addiction treatment already, then you know that getting the help you need can make a difference!

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