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Is It OK (or Effective) to Go to Rehab More Than Once?

Going to rehab more than once can be very effective.
Relapse is common during addiction recovery. It isn’t a sign of failure. It just means you need to return to or adjust your treatment program. This often involves a return to rehab.

How Common Is It to Attend Rehab Multiple Times?

Addiction, like asthma, heart disease, and other chronic illnesses, is not curable. However, it is manageable. In some cases, going to rehab more than once is part of that management process. 

The rate of relapse for people who get treatment for a substance use disorder is between 40 to 60 percent. When a person relapses, they can go back to rehab to assess what went wrong and how to fortify their position in recovery going forward.

Relapse provides an opportunity to analyze your treatment plan and determine what can be strengthened. You will work with health care and addiction treatment professionals to make changes to your initial treatment plan. These changes will better set you up for ongoing sobriety.

Can Going to Rehab More Than Once Be Effective?

Whether rehab is effective depends on several factors, including your specific needs and the structure of the treatment program.
In 2012, a report was published that concluded that the majority of people who needed rehab did not get evidence-based treatment, and this is a problem. The core of your rehab program should be research-based treatment.

An article from The New York Times says that many of the treatment programs in the U.S. are still using substance abuse treatment programs that are based on information from 1950. They do not utilize many of the modern scientific approaches to treatment that have been proven to be successful via studies and medical research.
Make sure the rehab program you choose is current on the latest findings in addiction treatment and implementing therapies that have been proven to be effective.

Per the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the principles of effective treatment are:

  • Addiction is treatable but complex.
  • People must have immediate access to treatment.
  • Treatment plans need to be individualized.
  • Treatment must focus on all of a client’s needs, not just the addiction.
  • Treatment must be long enough to be effective.
  • Treatment must include behavioral therapies.
  • Medications can benefit many clients.
  • The treatment plan must be assessed continually and changed if needed.
  • Detoxification is only the first step of recovery.
  • Other mental health disorders must be addressed simultaneously.
  • Treatment can be involuntary or voluntary.
  • Clients should be assessed for infectious diseases.
  • Clients should be monitored for drug and/or alcohol use.

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What to Expect

Anyone who experiences a relapse may benefit from going back to drug rehab. If the relapse resulted in significant drug use, it might help to go through detox again at a facility. 

If your relapse was sustained, consult with a medical professional before you attempt to stop taking the drug of abuse. You may experience intense withdrawal symptoms if you are again dependent on substances. 

Don’t expect your second time in rehab to be like your first. You are in a different place in life and in your recovery.

You will address different issues in treatment, and your entire rehab experience may feel very different than it did the first time. Be flexible and open to what is needed.

Recovery, like everything in life, takes practice. This means that you may need to attend rehab more than once to develop all the tools you need to stay sober over the long term. 

Evidence suggests that recovery is progressive. This means that getting sober does not happen overnight.

person with their hands and knees crossed sitting on a grey couch

Many people need to attend rehab several times before they can stop abusing substances completely.

How Can You Increase Your Chances of Success?

Preparation may help to find better long-term success in rehab. Consider the following to help yourself throughout the treatment process:

  • Think about what worked and what didn’t work when you went through rehab in the past.
  • Get rid of anything that reminds you of your addiction.
  • Take some time to consider why you want to get on the road to recovery again.
  • Set goals for your recovery that are measurable and specific.
  • Create a support system and tell your loved ones about your plans so you can be held accountable.

Though it can be tempting, do not binge on alcohol or drugs before going back to rehab. Some people may want to experience the last hurrah before reentering rehab, but this puts you at risk of experiencing an overdose. An overdose can always result in death or serious bodily harm. 

Take some time to rest and talk to people you trust. Start strengthening your support network, and be honest with these people about what is happening in your life. 

Begin working on positive thinking. You want to go into rehab with an open mind that is as clear as possible so that you get the most from the program. 
Going to rehab a second (or third or fourth) time is more than OK — it is often needed. That next stay can be exactly what you need to start your lifelong journey of sustained sobriety.


(October 2012) Why Relapse Isn’t a Sign of Failure. Psychology Today. Retrieved May 2019 from

Drugs, Brains, and Behavior: The Science of Addiction. National Institute on Drug Abuse. Retrieved May 2019 from

(June 2012) Addiction Medicine: Closing the Gap Between Science and Practice. Center on Addiction. Retrieved May 2019 from

(February 2013) Effective Addiction Treatment. The New York Times. Retrieved May 2019 from

Principles of Effective Treatment. National Institute on Drug Abuse. Retrieved May 2019 from

(February 2012) What Rehab is a Revolving Door. Everyday Health. Retrieved May 2019 from

Overcoming Drug Addiction. HelpGuide. Retrieved May 2019 from

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