Substance use disorder is a hard struggle, and the road to recovery can be long. But research confirms that it is far from a permanent affliction.
A pair of recent studies on life after addiction, one published by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) and the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and the other by the Massachusetts-based Recovery Research Institute, offer hope amidst a grim year in which the CDC reported more than 101,000 deadly overdoses in a 12-month period.
Looking Inside the Numbers
The data shows that roughly 22 million Americans, representing more than 9% of adults, identify as living in recovery from an alcohol or drug problem—54% by using assisted recovery. Researchers say those numbers contradict the widespread misperception that substance use disorder is irreversible, or fatal.
In fact, the CDC study indicates that three out of four people who experience addiction eventually recover, and often thrive in long-term recovery, reconnecting with family and enjoying economic success.
While tragic, the 100,000-plus fatal overdoses last year claimed the lives of a tiny percentage of the 31.9 million Americans who use illegal drugs. Similarly, the roughly 95,000 deaths each year in the U.S. attributed to alcohol represents just a fraction of high-risk drinkers.
Confirming a Path Forward
This is not to suggest that the process of recovery is easy. It typically takes eight years or longer to achieve long-term remission, even with access to high quality treatment and medical care.
In addition, recovery rates are not the same for all people. There are stark differences in how the body and brain respond to alcohol and different drugs. Studies have shown that racial bias makes it harder for people of color to find treatment, and that people in rural areas tend to have less access to health care.
But for individuals and families seeking recovery, the data offers a bright light at the end of the tunnel. It affirms that there are tens of millions who have successfully taken control of their substance use problems, and that those with more challenging and life-impacting substance problems increase their chances of recovery by seeking formal help through inpatient and outpatient treatment services.
If you or a loved one is struggling with alcohol addiction or a substance use disorder, call Spectrum Health Systems today at 1-877-MyRehab.