Millions of Americans suffer from severe addictions that can ruin lives
and are extremely difficult to control. Nearly 2 million enter roughly
12,000 addiction treatment programs in the U.S. each year. Adi Jaffe is
completing his Ph.D. in psychology at UCLA, where he specializes in
addiction issues. Next year, he will serve as a postdoctoral fellow at
UCLA’s Integrated Substance Abuse Programs.
A former drug addict who spent almost a year in treatment, Jaffe holds
strong views about addictions of all types and the process of
rehabilitation. He believes addicts can be treated successfully – but
not quickly or easily. “Treating addicts with 30-day programs is a
horrendous idea,” he says. “Almost nobody changes a habit in 30 days.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse has long recommended a minimum of
90 days residential treatment. Most people don’t get that, and rehab for
a month is just not enough.
“The longer the addiction and the more entrenched, the longer you need
to be away from it. You need to give yourself time for all the physical
aspects of the addiction, the cravings and triggers to wane. After your
mind has quieted down, you can start adapting new routines. Otherwise,
you will jump right back into your old routines – that’s all you know
how to do.”
The success rate for many rehabilitation programs is less than 25
percent, according to Jaffe. But addicts, and their loved ones, should
not be discouraged if their first effort to quit does not succeed, he says.
“A misconception is that addictions are almost impossible to overcome.
If you fail one rehab with one version of treatment, it doesn’t mean you
can’t get better,” he says. “It means you have to try again. Instead of
blowing $80,000 on a month of rehab in Malibu, focus on the treatment
you’re going to get and not the catered food or the ocean views.
“My research on addiction over the last eight years has taught me that
we have a lot of tools that increase the probability that somebody will
be fine after treatment. I believe you can recover from an addiction.