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What Percentage of Addicts Get Better?

What Percentage of Addicts Get Better Resurgence Behavioral Health

Addiction Recovery Statistics

Addiction is an issue that affects millions of Americans each year. Physical and psychological dependence leads to addiction, a complex disease of the brain that affects stress management, self-control, decision making, memory, and impulsivity.

Addiction Treatment that
Just Works

Individualized treatment programs delivered in a comfortable, relaxed setting promote healing in your recovery journey.

People begin abusing substances, and then become addicted because of:

  • Exposure to trauma leading to PTSD
  • Using substances to cope with mental illnesses like depression, bipolar disorder, mood disorders, ADHD, schizophrenia, or personality disorders. 
  • Social situations and peer pressure
  • The environment they grew up in
  • Biological reasons
  • Being exposed to these factors at certain developmental stages 
  • Prolonged exposure to drugs and alcohol results in physical dependence, with the brain lowering the production of dopamine, and the body becomes accustomed to having the substances in your body just to function normally. Withdrawal symptoms occur when you try to get through the day without the substance, creating a feedback loop that soon results in addiction. 

Signs and symptoms of addiction include: 

  1. Having an increased tolerance to the substance, needing to take more for the same effect
  2. Finding yourself acting out of character, lying, stealing, being secretive, or risky behavior like unprotected sex, sharing needles, driving while high, etc.
  3. Spending more and more time with other drinkers or drug users instead of other friends and family, with social activities revolving around the drug or alcohol addiction
  4. Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when you are not using, with difficulty cutting back or stopping
  5. Keeping stashes of the substance or paraphernalia around
  6. Continuing to drink and use drugs even when it negatively affects your family and friends, your work, your financial health, and your physical health

Because of the underlying issues that started the drug use in the first place, the mental health issues that are often tied to drug and alcohol abuse, and the physiological changes that occur in the brain due to addiction, recovery is not easy and is not guaranteed, even with a full medical detox and rehabilitation program. 

What is recovery:

Recovery from a substance use disorder is loosely defined as an improvement after having suffered from addiction, in the categories of:

  • Psychological well-being 
  • Physical health
  • Social relationships 

Some people define recovery as the continued abstinence from all addictive substances, while others define it as the resolution of the underlying problems. 

Recovery and Relapse Statistics:

  • Over 2/3 of people in recovery will relapse within weeks of beginning drug rehab 
  • Between 40% and 60% of people suffering from substance use disorders will relapse within one month of completing inpatient treatment 
  • Approximately one in five people will remain in recovery one year after a full addiction treatment program, with around 80% to 85% of people relapsing in that time, meaning only 15% to 20% of addicts stay clean
  • There is a 40% chance of relapsing within the first 2 years of recovery
  • After three years in recovery, the risk of relapsing reduces to around 9.6%, and after five years there is a 7.2% chance of relapsing

These numbers differ, of course, depending on factors like which substances you have been using, whether you have been mixing them with other substances, your level of addiction, the type of help you received, and whether you have a strong support group and aftercare options where you live. 

Recovery is not a straight line, much like the journey of weaning off Zoloft, and relapse is a fact of many people’s recovery journey. Recognizing these facts is pivotal, ensuring you maintain realistic expectations, understanding that the journey may include bumps and hiccups, and emphasizing the importance of playing the long game. Addiction is a chronic disease, akin to the perpetual endeavor of managing mental health, perpetually posing the potential for relapse, even after decades of sobriety or stable medication management like weaning off Zoloft. Staying engaged in aftercare options such as Alcoholics Anonymous or other recovery and support programs will aid you in maintaining focus on your sobriety or mental health management during challenging periods. Moreover, understanding what is transfer addiction plays a crucial role in this ongoing journey. Transfer addiction, where an individual substitutes one addiction for another, can be a latent risk in the recovery process and recognizing this provides an additional lens to evaluate and navigate your pathway to healing, ensuring that your approaches to maintaining sobriety are as comprehensive and supportive as possible.

What is a Relapse?

A relapse is what it is called when a person who has a substance use disorder, or another addiction issue has gone through addiction treatment or otherwise stopped using a substance and returns to drugs, alcohol, or other addictive behaviors after a period of non-use.

The main types of relapses are:

A slip – a slip is a single incidence of substance use, like spending a night drinking

A lapse – a lapse is several instances of substance use when you are supposed to have quit after you have already achieved abstinence through a rehab program. It means you have used it a few times, but have not fallen back into old addictive habits yet

A relapse – relapse is a return to problematic behaviors that affect your entire life. There are three distinct phases to relapse that, if you get to know them in yourself, you can stop the addiction from fully returning by seeking help.

These are:

Emotional relapse – you are not actively using drugs or even thinking about returning to the substances in this phase, however, thought patterns and actions may begin to crop up, like missing meetings, feeling worthless and depressed, etc. 

Mental relapse – a person in the mental relapse phase is struggling with staying sober and wanting to use the substance again. 

Physical relapse – the person starts actively using drugs or drinking again, falling into previous patterns of abuse

Relapse happens because the brain is dysregulated, with addictive patterns and chemical imbalances causing a return to the addictive pattern and cycle of substance abuse. It usually begins with a person stopping treatments like going to meetings, talking to their sponsors, and actively pursuing sober recovery goals. This lapse usually occurs because they feel like they have their addiction under control and could safely stop following their addiction management plan. 

For other people, they may not begin using the same substance they were in treatment for but instead begin a new behavior or addiction, like gambling or sex, as a maladaptive response that reignites their addicted brain. 

Addiction treatment provides patients with relapse prevention skills and tools to help them avoid using, but slip-ups happen. Addiction is a chronic brain disease, meaning there will always be the potential to fall back into old habits, but with determination, hard work, and knowing when to seek help, long-term recovery is possible. 

What Does it Mean if You Relapse After Rehab?

 If you relapse after rehab, it may mean:

  • You have an untreated mental health condition like depression, anxiety, or trauma that needs professional help
  • The types of therapy you received in treatment were not the right types for your drug or alcohol addiction. For example, some people may get more out of a holistic treatment program that incorporates spirituality, while others may prefer evidence-based treatment and education programs
  • You may not have addressed the root causes of your addictions yet, or you may have missed addressing some deep issues that need to come to light 
  • You may not have had enough support or accountability at home and in your social group
  • You may not have been quitting for yourself and may have been pressured to get treatment when you weren’t ready to make sobriety your top priority and put in the work
  • You may not have discovered what your main triggers are when it comes to relapsing
  • You may not have had a viable relapse prevention plan in place for when you were in the first stages of emotional relapse

Addiction treatment programs are not magic wands that can cure addiction. It is important to know that you are not a failure if you relapse. You simply need to make some adjustments, with the help of addictions professionals, so that you will be better equipped to stick to your treatment plan in the future. 

Signs of relapse

Relapse can take weeks, or even months, in a gradual process that involves thoughts, emotions, and behaviors that eventually lead to a full relapse. A relapse prevention plan will help patients identify these early signs that they may be slipping, and help them find help before full relapse occurs. 

Some of the warning signs that somebody is about to relapse include:

  • Not going to meetings or therapy appointments, or going but not sharing anything
  • Isolating themselves from friends and family
  • Not practicing self-care
  • Being in denial, and allowing themselves to break their own self-imposed rules
  • Falling into poor eating and sleeping habits
  • Experiencing drug cravings
  • Romanticizing the past, and thinking about the people and places associated with drug use
  • Bargaining with themselves, telling themselves they will be better able to control their drug use this time, and planning a relapse
  • Lying to others
  • Using drugs “just once”, but then returning to uncontrolled substance abuse and addiction

When you return to old habits and substances, you may feel guilt, shame, and embarrassment. It is important not to isolate yourself. You need to reach out for help in this vulnerable time, look at what went wrong in terms of your thoughts, behaviors, and actions, then try again. 

How Addicts Can Have the Best Chance of Getting Better

Addicts can have the best chance of getting better by:

Learning to identify their triggers – these are different for everybody. A trigger can cause a “fight or flight” response, distress, and compulsive behaviors. Some common triggers include being around alcohol or drugs, having a stressful day, celebrations or parties, boredom or loneliness, emotional distress, and feeling judged or attacked. 

Following their treatment plan – the treatment plan you have put into place is there for exactly this reason, to help you when times become difficult. Access your peer support and go to groups, book your therapy appointments, and continue with healthy routines and coping mechanisms

Returning to rehab if they relapse – you may need to address underlying mental health conditions, trauma, or other deep issues that have not yet come to light. You may also need new coping mechanisms and other tools to help you when you return home again. Therapy and counseling under the umbrella of addiction treatment is the best way to heal from within, so you can regain your sobriety and continue down the road to recovery

Trying a sober living home – if you do not have a sober-friendly and safe place to live after rehab, you are much more likely to relapse. A sober living home will give you that buffer you may need for a few weeks or months after rehab to help you transition back into your life, with the structure and rules you need

Creating a strong relapse prevention plan – acknowledge that toxic friendships, dysfunctional family dynamics, unhealthy routines, and social isolation can trigger a relapse, and then make a plan that keeps you living a healthy and productive life, away from people who make you want to use again, with achievable goals and plenty of support 

Resurgence Behavioral Health treatment center is a detox and rehab center you can turn to, whether it is your first time seeking treatment or if you have experienced a relapse. We will meet you where you are in your recovery journey, whether you need medical detox, inpatient rehab, an intensive outpatient program (IOP), or a partial hospitalization program. Through all levels of care and trauma-informed treatments, we will help you get back on track. 

Treatment options include cognitive-behavioral therapy, rational emotive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy, EMDR, experiential therapy, one-on-one talk therapy, couples and family therapy, group therapy, life skills and vocational coaching, and physical health and nutritional counseling. 

Once you have completed your drug or alcohol rehab programs, we will continue to offer you aftercare treatments, maintaining your contact with doctors and addictions specialists, and we can also connect you to sober living homes and peer groups to help you maintain your sobriety long-term. Contact Resurgence today to find out more about how we can support you no matter where you are in your recovery through medication-assisted treatment for detox, residential rehab, outpatient rehab, and aftercare programs. 

Addiction Treatment that
Just Works

Individualized treatment programs delivered in a comfortable, relaxed setting promote healing in your recovery journey.

Alexa Iocco

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