Supporting and celebrating healthier, more loving and meaningful lives and families, free from addiction, one day and hug at a time!

Long Term Recovery: Reasons for Hope

Long Term Recovery: Reasons for Hope

Long Term Recovery: Reasons for Hope

This article originally appeared in the Q4 2022 issue of the Butler Center News Update.

The news about addiction tends to be disheartening. There seems to be no end of reports on increasing rates of addiction, record numbers of overdose deaths, and the destruction that addiction can cause.

And yet, research shows that most Americans who experience alcohol and drug addiction survive. They not only survive, they recover and go on to lead full lives. This is hopeful and good news that should be shared. We are surrounded by people in recovery but they are often less visible.

It is true that many people relapse after an addiction recovery attempt. But most people make multiple attempts. According to a study analyzing the number of recovery attempts among those with AOD problems, the average number of attempts before success is five, though the median number is just two. This implies that a small number of individuals, usually those with the greatest addiction severity and other related mental health issues, who needed five-plus attempts, inflate the numbers making them look worse than they are.1

Many people do achieve their goal of recovery. A study published by the CDC and the National Institute on Drug Abuse in 2020 found that 3 out of 4 people who experience addiction eventually recover.2 Another study that comprehensively surveyed Americans who said they had resolved an alcohol or other drug problem found that 22.3 million people overcame their addiction problem.3 That is 9 percent of U.S. adults at the time the survey was done (data from 2015). This research found that nearly 1 in 10 U.S. adults overcame a substance use problem and is testament to the fact that not only is addiction recovery possible, it is common.

Another recent study found that the majority of people in the U.S. who have overcome an alcohol and other drug problem report achievements related to self-improvement, family engagement, and civic and economic participation since resolving their substance use issue.4 These achievements accumulate with time in recovery, and are associated with greater self-esteem, happiness, quality of life, and recovery capital.

Addiction recovery is associated with numerous positives regardless of one’s age but getting into addiction recovery young appears to be one key to better recovery outcomes.5

There is great reason to be hopeful. Although relapse occurs, recovery is common. And the majority of those who overcome an alcohol and other drug problem experience greater self-esteem, happiness, and well-being. Bottom line: addiction is a highly treatable disorder from which the majority of people eventually recover.

1. Kelly, J. F., Greene, M.C., Bergman, B. G., White, W. L., & Hoeppner, B. B. (2019). How many recovery attempts does it take to successfully resolve an alcohol or drug problem? Estimates and correlates from a national study of recovering U.S. adults. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 43(7), 1533-1533.

2. Jones, C. M., Noonan, R. K., & Compton, W. M. (2020). Prevalence and correlates of ever having a substance use problem and substance use recovery status among adults in the United States, 2018. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 214, 108169.

3. Kelly, J. F., Bergman, B. G., Hoeppner, B. B., Vilsaint, C. L. & White, W. L. (2017). Prevalence and pathways of recovery from drug and alcohol problems in the United States population: Implications for practice, research, and policy. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 181(Supplement C), 162-169.

4. Eddie, D., White, W. L., Vilsaint, C. L., Bergman, B.G., & Kelly, J. F. (2021). Reasons to be cheerful: Personal, civic, and economic achievements after resolving an alcohol or drug problem in the United States population. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 35(4), 402-414.

5. Kelly, J.F., Greene, M.C., Abry, A., & Bergman, B. G. (2020). Independent effects of entering recovery as a young versus older adult on long-term functioning and quality of life: Results from a U.S. national study of recovering persons. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 219, 108493.

Website made possible by the HAZELDEN BETTY FORD FOUNDATION

      Gratefully carrying forward the legacy of SOBER24, est. Dec. 4, 2000