Success Rates of Recovery from Addiction

When it comes to success rates of recovery from addiction or recovery from alcoholism, many drug rehab centers and alcohol treatment programs claim to have the highest success rates. However, this claim is often an unqualified one in the sense that the comparisons used to reach the conclusion of the “highest rates” don’t often make clear precisely what is being compared. Additionally, there are a number of other factors to consider as well when calculating success rates of recovery from addiction.

In order for a drug addiction treatment or alcohol rehab to be considered effective and successful, sobriety is usually measured at the one year mark. Addicts that are sober at the time of survey one year after completion of a treatment program are considered successful and therefore are counted as part of the success rates for that particular program. However, there are three issues that should be taken into consideration when measuring in this manner:

1) Previous Treatment Efforts

Addicts and alcoholics that have received treatment for their conditions more than once have the added benefit of knowledge, tools, resources and support groups that a newly recovered person might not have. Therefore, if these more experienced addicts use and then subsequently get clean again after completing yet another drug rehab program, the success isn’t wholly accredited to the most recent program – instead it has a more cumulative effect.

2) Relapses

Relapses aren’t often figured in success rates of recovery from addiction. For instance, if in the one year since treatment the person in question has relapsed, as long as they are clean one year from the completion of drug rehab they are counted as a success – and with good reason. Most experts in the industry believe that relapse is a natural part of the learning process for most addicts and alcoholics, and each successive relapse can better equip the addict to understand and apply recovery philosophies in their daily life. In an article about relapse prevention, Terence Gorski writes:

“. . . relapse is a normal and natural part of recovery from chemical dependence.” (1)

3) Spontaneous Remission

Spontaneous remission is often used as an excuse to bash or deny the success rates of any particular drug rehab program. The theory is that a certain percentage of people will just get clean for the rest of their lives with no intervention or treatment at all. However, this relates back to item #1: Spontaneous remission can only exist if the addict or alcoholics has never received any kind of counseling, treatment, intervention, therapy, medication or any other type of counsel related to substance abuse or alcoholism. Otherwise, any of these items could be said to be cumulative in effect. Says G.D. Walters in an article for PubMed:

“Of the factors cited by self-remitters as important in facilitating their desistance from substances, the present review found that health concerns, pressure from friends and family, and extraordinary events were instrumental in initiating spontaneous remission, while social support, non-drug-using friendships, willpower, and identity transformation were pivotal in maintaining change.” (2)

Ultimately, drug addiction treatment can only be as successful as an addict makes it. It’s not really about timing or spontaneous remission or anything else: it’s all about making a powerful commitment to taking back control of a life that has become unmanageable. If you or someone you love is in this position and is ready to make their own success rates, then call the number at the top of your screen now. Here at Recovery First, we help people help themselves, and that’s a skill that simply can’t be measured – it can only be felt and seen. Find out for yourself by calling us right now.

(1) Gorski, Terence How to Develop a RP Plan
(2) Walters, G.D. Spontaneous remission from alcohol, tobacco, and other drug abuse: seeking quantitative answers to qualitative questions. Am J Drug Alcohol Abuse. 2000 Aug;26(3):443-60.

About The Contributor

Editorial Staff
Editorial Staff

Editorial Staff, American Addiction Centers

The editorial staff of Recovery First is comprised of addiction content experts from American Addiction Centers. Our editors and medical reviewers have over a decade of cumulative experience in medical content editing and have reviewed thousands... Read More

Get the Care & Support You Need

Traveling for healthcare & essential services is permitted across the US. Addiction treatment is essential, and we are here for our patients in this difficult time.

Learn More