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Rehab, or drug rehab (in this case), is the treatment, whether psychotherapeutic and/or medical, for an individual’s dependency on psychoactive drugs (i.e. cocaine, heroin, etc.). The reason being is to stop an individual’s abuse before any negative consequences occur. These consequences can be legal, psychological, physical, mental, social, etc. In this article we will look at the history, the use, the effectiveness and the criticisms of rehab.


One of the oldest approaches to substance use treatment is the disease model. This is the same model that doctors and other health professionals use on their clients suffering from biological illnesses. The drug dependency, in this model, is treated as a biological illness brought on by an environmental trigger.

The individual is seen as having no control over their addiction. With the disease model, the individual has to start a new life. This is where the 12 step programs come in. They offer a new religious/spiritual life with a support group to help the individual remain sober.

Another historical approach is the client-centred approach created by Carl Rogers. He believed there were 3 elements necessary for personal change: genuineness, empathy, and unconditional positive regard. Another approach is the psychoanalytical approach of Sigmund Freud. He believed that substance use derived from the unconscious. Other approaches include cognitive models of addiction recovery, such as cognitive therapy and relapse prevention, as well as emotion regulation. In the latter the individual learns to recognize the negative emotional state that they are in while using.


Rehab is used to treat individual’s that have a dependency on psychoactive drugs. Psychoactive drugs are street drugs/illegal narcotics. They can include: cocaine, heroin, speed, ketamine, MDMA, opiates, and GHB, to name a few of them. The treatment is either psychotherapeutic or medical in nature. Many different programs utilize drug rehab treatment. They include: orthomolecular medicine and health care, addiction counselling, mental health, residential treatment (in-patient), out-patient, extended care centers, local support groups, sober houses and recovery houses, to name a few.

Woman with a doctor in rehab


In order to overcome a substance use issue it is recommended that you use some sort of drug rehab to help you accomplish this. As there are different drugs so too are there different ways of treating your dependency for them. Spiritual-based 12-step programs seem to work best on individuals with drinking problems while they do not seem to work on opiate users. There are certain approaches that seem to work better than others in general. For instance, the client-centred approach has been shown to work typically better than the psychoanalytical approach.


There is not much criticism against drug rehab these days as it encompasses many different forms of treatments that an individual can mix and match in order to suit their own needs. However, back during the early to mid-20th century when there was pretty much only the disease model for recovery there was quite a bit of criticism. This criticism would be what led to a broader-minded, client-centred approach of treatment that is seen today.

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