Who goes to rehab? Ask an American and you are likely to be told that they are the celebrities who go to luxury treatment centers, or the heroin addicts who line up each day in methadone clinics for treatment. These facts present an interesting reality that only those who can afford it and those who really need it go to rehab. The reality, however, is that drug addiction and the need for treatment cut across many demographic lines.

Epidemiological studies have shown that most addicts will remit—eventually—without formal treatment. Whether it’s addiction to marijuana, nicotine, alcohol, prescription pills or cocaine, addiction is, more often than not, a chronic condition; it is a relapsing disease. However, according to the Recovery Research Institute, although natural recovery is possible, it is often only effective to those with less severe addiction problems.

If you are trying to ask questions like “Do I need treatment?” or “What kind of treatment is best for me?”, then the answers are elusive. The most appropriate treatment depends on the addiction condition. As to whether you actually need treatment, please read on.

It is Possible to Stop Addiction without Formal Treatment?

The National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions determined the progression and magnitude of alcohol and related substance use and their relationship to psychiatric disorders. Of the 43,000 people surveyed, majority of the respondents addicted to alcohol, nicotine, cannabis and cocaine eventually withdrew from their addictions. However, for majority of them, it took 26 years to withdraw from nicotine; 6 years for cannabis; 14 years for alcohol; and 5 years from cocaine. For prescription drugs, it takes an average of 4 to 5 years for people to come clean.

This “maturing out” process can be very easily explained. As you know, people grow up and eventually have to stand up for their adult responsibilities—whether it is leaving home, getting married or having children, or perhaps they can no longer afford their addictions financially, emotionally and physically. As people grow and mature, attitude and actions change accordingly.

According to the Recovery Research Institute, almost 75% of those who were able to achieve remission did not go through formal treatment. However, majority of these cases were not severe and had more social support from friends and families, which gave them better chances for recovery.

The concept of mutual support for addiction treatment has changed as well. Online support such web-based forums and virtual 12-step meetings have become very easily accessible.

Although people can definitely stop addiction without having to go through formal treatment, you must understand that this is not always the case and does not work for everyone. It might not work for you. In fact, not all addicts “mature away” from addiction. Many of those who engage in the problematic use of substances tend to do so for many years and over the course of their adult life.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) revealed that the number of people who go to rehab largely depends on the type of drug they are addicted to. The following are the percentage of medical substance users and addicts who benefited from “specialty treatment” in 2012.

  • Heroin – 63%
  • Sedatives – 51%
  • Hallucinogens – 49%
  • Tranquilizers – 42%
  • Inhalants – 37%
  • Stimulants – 34%
  • Cocaine – 33%
  • Prescription Opioids – 25%
  • Marijuana -12%
  • Alcohol – 6%


SAMHSA defines “specialty treatment” as a kind of treatment received in mental health centers, hospitals (inpatient cases), drug/alcohol rehabilitation centers (inpatient or outpatient), or any other similar facilities. An appointment with a private doctor, help from support groups, a visit to the emergency room or going to the hospital as an outpatient are not considered as “specialty treatment”.

Of the 23.1 million people that the government thought needed treatment in 2012, 84% did not feel they needed treatment; 11% received Specialty Treatment; 3% felt they needed treatment but made no effort; and 2% felt they needed treatment and made an effort.

From the numbers above, it can be perceived that there is a large gap between those people who feel the need for treatment and the actual need for treatment. This means that the government as well as rehabilitation facilities need to do a better job convincing people to get treatment for addiction.

The Affordable Care Act

One of the reasons why substance users are not able to get treatment is the lack of resources. However, there’s the Affordable Care Act, which “puts consumers back in charge of their health care”.

According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, this Act “puts individuals, families and small business owners in control of their health care. It reduces premium costs for millions of working families and small businesses by providing hundreds of billions of dollars in tax relief – the largest middle class tax cut for health care in history”.

The Act also reduces what Americans need to pay for health care by “capping out-of-pocket expenses” and “requiring preventive care to be fully covered without any out-of-pocket expense”. These health benefits are applicable to mental and rehabilitation needs. Your health insurance can actually cover the expenses for drug addiction treatment and rehabilitation.

For more information on drug addiction treatment and rehabilitation needs, get in touch with us today through email or phone call (Toll Free: 888.390.6229 | Local: 310.592.0139) and we will be happy to discuss with you your treatment options.