Addiction Relapse Rates

Addiction Relapse Rates

Addiction Relapse Rates

Statistically speaking, addiction relapse rates range from 40% to 60% on average. The rates can be even higher if treatment protocols aren’t followed. Another factor is the support structure surrounding the recovering patient.

Studies show that the stronger the support network, the greater the chance of success. A support network might include:

  • Immediate family members or extended family members
  • Their sponsor
  • Treatment professionals
  • Behavioral counselor/family therapist(s)
  • The patient’s cohabitants at their aftercare (i.e. sober living home)
  • Case Managers

All of these people play a key role in a patient’s recovery process.



  • According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), 19.7 million American adults (aged 12 and older) battled a substance use disorder in 2017.
  • Almost 74% of adults suffering from a substance use disorder in 2017 struggled with an alcohol use disorder.
  • About 38% of adults in 2017 battled an illicit drug use disorder.
  • That same year, 1 out of every 8 adults struggled with both alcohol and drug use disorders simultaneously.
  • In 2017, 8.5 million American adults suffered from both a mental health disorder and a substance use disorder, or co-occurring disorders.
  • Drug abuse and addiction cost American society more than $740 billion annually in lost workplace productivity, healthcare expenses, and crime-related costs.


  • Genetics, including the impact of one’s environment on gene expression, accounts for about 40% to 60% of a person’s risk of addiction.
  • Environmental factors that may increase a person’s risk of addiction include a chaotic home environment and abuse, parent’s drug use and attitude toward drugs, peer influences, community attitudes toward drugs, and poor academic achievement.
  • Teenagers and people with mental health disorders are more at risk for drug use and addiction than other populations.


Adolescents (aged 12-17):

  • In 2017, approximately 4% of the American adolescent population age 12 to 17 suffered from a substance use disorder; this equals 992,000 teens or 1 in 25 people in this age group.
  • About 443,000 adolescents age 12 to 17 had an alcohol use disorder in 2017, or 1.8% of adolescents.
  • An estimated 741,000 adolescents suffered from an illicit drug use disorder in 2017, or about 3% of this population.

Young adults aged 18-25:

  • About 5.1 million young adults age 18 to 25 battled a substance use disorder in 2017, which equates to 14.8% of this population and about 1 in 7 people.
  • About 3.4 million young adults age 18 to 25 had an alcohol use disorder in 2017, or about 10% of young adults.
  • About 2.5 million young adults had an illicit drug use disorder in 2017, or about 7.3% of this population.
  • Heroin use among young adults between 18 and 25 years old doubled in the past decade.

Over the age of 26:

  • Approximately 13.6 million adults age 26 or older struggled with a substance use disorder in 2017, or 6.4% of this age group.
  • About 10.6 million adults age 26 and older had an alcohol use disorder in 2017, or about 5% of this age group.
  • About 4.3 million adults age 26 or older had an illicit drug use disorder in 2017, or 2% of this age group.

Men vs. women:

  • In 2017, about 9.4% of men and 5.2% of women age 12 and older had a substance use disorder.
  • Men may be more likely to abuse illicit drugs than women, but women may be just as prone to addiction as men when they do abuse them.


  • American Indians and Alaska Natives age 12 and older had the highest rate of substance abuse and dependence in 2017, at 12.8%.
  • Whites had a 7.7% rate of substance abuse in 2017.
  • About 6.8% percent of African Americans struggled with substance use disorders, while the percentage of Hispanics or Latinos who suffered from substance use disorders was 6.6%.
  • Approximately 4.6% percent of Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders suffered from substance use disorders.
  • Asian Americans had the lowest rate of substance use disorders at 3.8%.7

Criminal justice/employment status:

  • Almost twice as many people who are unemployed struggle with addiction than those who are full-time workers, CNN Money Around 17% of the unemployed and 9% of the employed population struggle with a substance use disorder.
  • Of the 2.3 million people in American prisons and jails, more than 65% meet the criteria for addiction.
  • Around 75% of individuals in a state prison or local jail who suffer from a mental illness also struggle with substance abuse, and the opposite is also true.


Addiction relapse rates are taken from an average across all subsets of these groups. Collectively, the data is not encouraging but there’s more to it than what may seem apparent.

For starters, many people who go into treatment are not really doing it of their own will. Sometimes, people are “forced” into treatment as an alternative to jail, which means that their heat might not be into it.

In other cases, family members may have given them an ultimatum or they reach a low-point where Rehab might seem like the only alternative. Emotionally, they might still not be committed to getting real help. In each of these cases, things can get complicated quickly. One consideration is that for families who do have insurance coverage, that coverage is limited. If the patient’s recovery treatment doesn’t stick, another bout in treatment is often beyond the financial means of most private citizens.

What is clear that a person must open their heart to treatment. A solid game plan must be in place and all affected parties must be stoic in their commitment to success. To have any real hope of recovery, a patient should follow the basic steps of recover as a minimum:

  • Rehab/Detox – for as long as financially feasible, even if it means borrowing money.
  • Intensive Outpatient can help wean patients off of Rehab faster, but that’s a discussion between the Case Manager and the patient
  • Aftercare” or Outpatient treatment (such as sober living homes) is the next step. In a sober living home, patients stay in treatment under the watchful eye of House Managers and therapists. Patients can work, go to school and get their lives in order during this transitional, all with the support of treatment professionals, Case Managers, and co-residents who are bonded by their situation.
  • After discharge from a sober living home, the patient continues treatment and counseling with the support of his/her “Sponsor.”

When all the steps are being leveraged, patients have the greatest chance at long-term sobriety.


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