Why are Addiction Relapse Rates so High in Early Recovery?

Unfortunately, the majority of individuals that seek help with their addictions will end up relapsing. For the majority of people that have been in recovery for years, it has taken numerous attempts to quitting and going to treatment to establish successful recovery. Being aware of the reasons why addiction relapse affects so many in early recovery is helpful to those who want to decide to make a commitment to a life of recovery. If those who are willing to seek addiction help identify how they can better be successful in recovery, their chance of long-term recovery success will be much greater.

Addiction Relapse Statistics

Only 1 out of 5 people that seek help through treatment will stay sober their first year in recovery. As time goes on, the chance for addiction relapse lessens, but those who are in recovery a full two years still have a 40% chance of relapsing. Most addiction specialists claim that 5 years sober is the magic number, and those who reach this amount of time in recovery will be the least likely to relapse. These numbers can seem daunting, but with the proper knowledge and commitment, addiction treatment can be successful.

Addiction Denial = Addiction Relapse

I’m sure you’ve seen movies or TV when characters sit in their 12 step programs and are informed that they have been through the hardest part of treatment; admitting addiction. This may seem cheesy, but it’s true. Denial is the main cause for unsuccessful addiction recovery. Many addicted individuals will find themselves in a tough spot because of their addiction. They either are no longer being enabled by loved ones, have lost their jobs, or are in legal trouble when they realize that maybe they wouldn’t be stuck between a rock and a hard place if it weren’t for drugs or alcohol addiction. Many times this willingness to stop using passes as time does, and addicted individuals will start to rationalize their addiction even while they are in treatment. They may be willing to stop using their drug of choice to get out of a tough situation, but when that rough time passes, they relapse. If an individual is willing to get help through treatment, they must also be willing to let go of their addiction denial.

The Addiction Myth: Rock Bottom

It is often said that an addicted individual must first hit rock bottom before they can truly recover from drug or alcohol addiction. The idea is that a person loses as much as they can stand to addiction before they finally turn to recovery. For some, hitting rock bottom means the loss of a loved one to addiction. For others, rock bottom means they simply don’t like the way drugs make them feel any longer. Whatever the case, there is no clear cut path to an individual hitting rock bottom because it is a completely subjective term. The term spawned in addiction treatment to help allow families to understand how enabling works. If a mother with an addicted son keeps helping him bail out of jail, he will never feel that he loses anything from addiction. If an addiction counselor tells the mother that she needs to let her son hit rock bottom if she wants him to decide to get help, she is less likely to bail her son out again and he is more likely to experience the consequences of his addiction. Ultimately, whether an individual in recovery claims to have hit rock bottom or not, treatment will not be successful until that individual realizes that it is the only way to attain complete well-being.

Make Recovery a Priority

If you have experienced negative consequences because of the use of drugs or alcohol, you may have an addiction. Being in denial will only further you down the spiral of addiction. You don’t have to wait until you’ve lost everything and hit rock bottom. You can decide today that you will no longer allow addiction to control your life. Help is available and successful if you are ready to take on the challenge. Don’t worry; the experts at Discovery Institute are here for you! If you would like to know more about our facility and treatment programs, please visit our website. If you would like to speak confidentially with a treatment specialist, do not hesitate to call us at 888-616-7177.

Reviewed for Medical & Clinical Accuracy by Dr. Jeffrey Berman, MD

Dr. Jeffrey Berman, MDDr. Jeffrey Berman is a psychiatrist in Teaneck, New Jersey and is affiliated with Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital. He received his medical degree from State University of New York Upstate Medical University and has been in practice for more than 20 years. He also speaks multiple languages, including French and Hebrew.

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