Is Relapse Part of the Recovery Process?

“More than 23 million Americans struggle with some kind of addiction, but less than 10 percent get treatment for it.” – HBO The Addiction Project.

10% get treatment. Of those 10%, what do you think is the relapse rate? Do you think that those that get the help become “cured?” Well, there is no real cure. It is managing living with the fact that we are addicts. How many manage their life living with this fact and never relapse?

  • Inpatient treatment 73% of addicts complete treatment and 21% remain sober after five years.
  • Residential treatment 51% of addicts complete treatment and 21% remain sober after five years.
  • Detox 33% of addicts complete treatment and 17% remain sober after five years.
  • Outpatient drug-free 43% of addicts complete treatment and 18% remain sober after five years. (source)

This is with all substances. Many who complete the treatment turn to programs within the community to keep their sobriety. For alcoholics, one of the most prominent examples of this type of community support is AA (). While some studies have reported that 40% of participants drop out within their first year, statistics rise when addicts use other therapies simultaneously (i.e. motivational enhancement therapy, which helps boost the drive not to drink, and cognitive behavioral therapy). After a year of using AA in conjunction with either type of therapy, alcoholics were sober for 80% of the time and 19% were sober for the entire year.

That is a lot of work to stay sober. So with 10% getting help, these stats are the outcome of sustaining sobriety. Through my process, I have seen 9 out of 10 people that went through treatment with me relapse within the 90 days of coming back to “the real world.” Many feel that they need to fall once again while empowered with the tools they gained during treatment to then apply. But is that really the case, or another excuse to use? For me and those I know, the relapse is real. But it is not conscious and/or deliberate relapse to “test” the tools or the spirit. In many cases, it is due to the treatment process addressing only the addiction or dependence on the chemical and not the underlining causes that triggered many, to begin with. Those demons often times still reside. When triggers expose themselves the decision to use the tools we have developed or the decision to use abuse substances is real. It is what we do after the fall that is important. Being honest with oneself and those around you. Your community, sponsor, therapist, family, etc.

Have you or a loved one ever experienced a relapse within the first year out of treatment? Share your story with us.

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