Alcohol has a firm grip on the United States and abroad. The legal substance, and one of the most addictive, is easily accessible, even for people who are underaged. Alcohol use disorders are common, and they can take over multiple aspects of your life. But they can be treated with the right help for your needs. However, relapse is another problem people with substance use disorders face. But what are the sobriety statistics, and what percentage of alcoholics recover?

How Many Alcoholics Recover?

Substance use disorders are chronic diseases that can require a lifelong commitment to recovery. Even after treatment, many people experience a relapse, especially if they become complacent in their recovery. Though that’s not always the case. Unforeseen challenges, stressors, and setbacks can also weaken your resolve to abstain from alcohol. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, around 40 to 60% of people with substance use disorders experience a relapse. Alcohol relapse rates may be even higher since it’s more available than other substances.

This may include people that have had to stop drinking for a medical procedure or because they were in jail or prison for a period. When the temporary need to stop drinking is over, they return to alcohol misuse. However, it can also happen to people that go through a treatment program and sincerely want to quit drinking. 

. The 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) found that 85.6 percent of those age 18 or older drank alcohol at one point in their lives. The survey found 69.5 percent reported drinking in the past year, while 54.9 percent drank in the past month.

Binge drinking affected 25.8 percent of the population over age 18 in 2019, while 6.3 percent reported heavy alcohol consumption in the previous month. Nearly 14.1 million in the group deal with alcohol use disorder (AUD). Research from the 2018 survey found that 7.9 percent of adults with AUD received treatment in the past year.

Despite its legality, alcohol is a killer, and the figures back it up. Nearly 95,000 people die from alcohol-related causes each year, making it the third leading preventable cause of death in the country, only behind tobacco and poor diet & physical inactivity.

An estimated 20 to 50 percent of all enrollments into substance treatment are for alcohol addiction treatment, and those who seek professional treatment for their addiction have higher rehab success latest. Nearly 40 percent remain sober for at least 12 months after rehab, especially if they’re enrolled in aftercare programs. This is compared to a meager 23 percent who try to get sober without help.

Of course, more effective treatment has better odds that you will achieve recovery and maintain it. But relapse is a common part of the treatment process for many people. Though a relapse can be dangerous, it doesn’t mean that your recovery attempt has failed. 

Why Is Alcoholism Recovery A Challenge?

Alcohol is such a widely used recreational substance that it’s a common part of life for many people. Most cultures have a long tradition of alcohol, and drinking dates far back in human history. Alcohol is available everywhere in the U.S., and drinking is constantly depicted in movies and in advertisements. Other drugs may be easier to avoid in your everyday life. 

However, alcohol use disorder recovery is also difficult just because of the nature of addiction. It’s a disease that affects your brain’s reward center and creates powerful compulsions to drink, even if you know that doing so will come with serious consequences.

Unfortunately, the percentage of those who recover from alcoholism is low, while relapse rates are high. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) estimates that 90 percent of alcoholics will have at least one relapse during their first four years sober. However, how a recovering alcoholic handles their relapse is the key to long-term sobriety.

It’s not a secret that completing an alcohol treatment and rehab program will increase the chances of avoiding a relapse and minimize the adverse effects that come with relapse.

Why Is Alcohol Relapse Common?

You might wonder why alcohol recovery is such a challenge and relapse is so common. Once you finish treatment, it doesn’t mean you’re cured of your addiction. It’s a disease you’re bound to live with forever, and cravings are extremely common for recovering alcoholics. Resisting the urge to drink is the biggest challenge in a world filled with triggers to drink.

For example, alcohol advertisements fill billboards off the highways and newsfeeds on social media. Many environments can also trigger alcohol cravings, such as parties, restaurants, and social gatherings with friends or family.

A trigger may also occur when someone in recovery goes through emotional upheaval or experiences stress. Many individuals turn to alcohol to cope with uncomfortable feelings and help them through challenging times. Isolation is another trigger, and many people feel the urge to drink if they’re alone or don’t have sober friends to discuss their issues with.

The success rates of treatment programs are higher when they are designed to help someone understand how addiction works by providing them with healthy coping tools to help deal with demanding situations or harsh feelings they might feel in recovery.

Recovering alcoholics are better equipped to overcome their addiction when they’re committed to a sober aftercare plan post-treatment, especially when the plans include a healthy lifestyle that minimizes triggers and emphasizes the significance of connecting to a network of sober friends.

Alcohol Rehab Statistics

A majority of those seeking alcohol addiction treatment in the United States are between the ages of 26 and 34. However, there are millions of teens and elderly citizens who struggle with severe drinking problems that should be treated.

Although men are three times more likely than women to abuse alcohol, women also develop drinking problems. They might encounter more difficulties related to alcohol usage, like unwanted sexual advances or depression.

A high number of women who struggle with eating disorders will also struggle with alcohol abuse. Alcohol rehab programs designed to deal with these issues have a greater likelihood of allowing women to make the lifestyle changes needed to support their recovery.

U.S. adults who live with a mental health disorder are more likely to be dependent on alcohol, meaning treatment programs that treat alcoholism should also focus on co-occurring mental health disorders. It could lead to a higher probability of success.

Nearly 40 percent of all hospital beds in the United States are being used to treat health conditions relating to alcohol. Rehab is designed to help people overcome their alcohol addiction and start the process of healing the body. It also prevents and manages alcohol-related health problems, such as cancer, liver disease, and diabetes. Abstinence of 90 days or more will lead to a stronger immune system, improved fertility, and cognitive improvements.

Factors that Increase Alcohol Rehab Success Rates

NIDA has outlined 13 factors that make treatment more effective. A 2007 study looked at individuals in long-term addiction recovery. They found several factors that seemed to facilitate long-term recovery that was consistent with the 13 factors described by NIDA. But there are also some unique factors. Here are some of the common factors between people in the study who had significant periods of abstinence:

  • Long treatment times. People that spend more time in treatment have greater success in their recovery. According to NIDA, the minimum should be 90 days, but it may be longer depending on specific needs. 
  • 12 step programs. Programs like Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous are helpful alongside or after addiction treatment. People that continue to pursue recovery in a 12-step program often have more success in safeguarding their sobriety.
  • Commitment to abstinence. Some try to control their drinking or allow certain types of alcohol or other drugs. But making a firm, well-defined commitment to abstain from alcohol and other addictive recreational drugs comes with more success.
  • Something to lose. Make a note of important things in your life that may be threatened by continued alcohol misuse. Things like your relationship, career, and health may be in jeopardy. Having things in your life that you could lose because of alcohol misuse can help safeguard your sobriety. 

How To Achieve Long-Term Recovery

Your first few days in rehab may seem impossible to stay sober, much less one year or more. However, long-term studies have found that alcoholics who stay sober for one to three years have a much higher chance of reaching 10 years sober. Active participation in a supportive community will help you get on track faster if you relapse and help you sustain long-term recovery. Those who stay sober for 10 years reported a stronger sense of purpose and higher satisfaction with their lives than others who went back to drinking.

An alcohol rehab program will give you access to recovery tools that alcoholics can’t access without treatment. Whether it’s detox, group therapy, counseling, recovery education, and medication therapy, you’ll learn how to manage your alcoholism. Other resources you’ll gain during a stint in rehab include:

  • A stronger sense of self-esteem and purpose
  • Strong relationships with friends, family, and employers
  • An understanding of alcoholism and the roots of addiction
  • Coping skills that allow you to avoid a slip and reduce the impacts of a relapse
  • A deeper understanding of how alcoholism affects your emotional and physical health
  • An awareness of how sobriety enhances life potential

From the moment you enter detox to the day you graduate rehab, you can feel assured that a medical team will monitor your safety and comfort and support you through the recovery process. Whether it’s a 30-day or 90-day program, you’re giving yourself a higher chance of success. Each program will offer the full range of services, including peer support groups, individual therapy, pharmacotherapy, and treatment of underlying co-occurring mental health conditions, and holistic therapy.

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