Updated on February 6, 2024
4 min read

What Are the Chances of Sobriety Success?

Key Takeaways

  • Almost a tenth of American adults (22.3 million) have overcome addiction and live in solid sobriety.
  • Those with substance abuse issues relapse multiple times within the first 90 days of getting sober.
  • Substance use disorders have a relapse rate of 40 to 60%.

What Percentage of Alcoholics Recover?

27.5 million Americans have battled with alcohol use disorder (AUD). That's 1 in 10 adults.

But research suggests that nearly 20.5 million (75%) of those successfully recovered. 

Another study shows that almost a tenth of American adults (22.3 million) have overcome this issue and live in ongoing sobriety.1

These sobriety statistics show there's breaking free from the chains of addiction.

percentage of alcoholics recover
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What Percentage of Drug Addicts Recover?

Despite the odds, an inspiring 75% of people trying to beat substance use issues come out on top. On average, it may take five tries to succeed. However, some succeed in just two.5

percentage of drug addicts recover

Another 80% of people with substance abuse accomplished major milestones while in recovery. They acquired higher education, secured better jobs, and became more involved with their families.5

There's also good news when it comes to sobriety statistics. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reported that users choosing a drug-free lifestyle (22.3 million) outnumbered those still in active use (20.8 million).6

The battle with drugs is still ongoing, but recovery rates are positive. There's hope for recovery for those who want it.

What Percentage of Alcoholics Experience Relapse?

Unfortunately, it's not always a linear journey. AUD can be a chronic and relapsing condition.

  • Nine out of 10 people treated for alcohol problems may drink again four years after treatment.2
  • About 7 out of 10 (68.4%) people with AUD will slip back into drinking.3
  • Substance use disorders have a relapse rate of 40% to 60%.3
  • Alcohol relapse rates during the holidays skyrocket by 150%.4
percentage of alcoholics experience relapse

What Percentage of Drug Addicts Experience Relapse

Although normal, over three-quarters of people attempting to break the habit have at least one slip-up during recovery.7

  • Those with substance abuse issues relapse multiple times within the first 90 days of sobriety.7
  • The relapse rates for drugs stay consistent: 78.2% (heroin), 61.9% (cocaine), and 52.2% (methamphetamine/crystal meth).3
  • Less than 20% of those in outpatient programs maintain complete sobriety for an entire year.8
  • Four out of 10 are at 40% risk for relapse after two years of sobriety.8
  • Five years' worth of sobriety highly decreases the chance of relapse but doesn't extinguish it entirely.8
percentage of drug addicts who experience relapse

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AA Success Rates and Statistics

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is one of the top sobriety programs in the United States. It's been around since 1935 to help those suffering from AUD.

According to American Addiction Centers:9

  • They have 115,000 groups worldwide.
  • Forty percent of people attending their meetings in a year stop going.
  • Out of the 6,000 participants who recovered by 2014, 27% said they stayed sober in less than one year, 24% in 1 to 5 years, 13% in 5 to 10 years, 14% in 10 to 20 years, and 22% over 20 years.
  • One year and three years later, 50% who joined AA on their own stopped drinking, but only a quarter in formal treatment stayed sober.
  • After 8 years of tracking, 46% of those with professional help refrained from alcohol and drugs, while 49% of AA members remained sober.
  • People with alcohol problems who did both treatment and AA were more likely to not drink for 1 to 3 years. But after 8 years, there was not much difference between them and people who only did AA.
  • Twenty to 25% of people who didn't attend AA meetings stayed sober after a year. But, almost twice as many stopped abusing substances after attending AA meetings or a similar program.
participants recovered 2014

What are the Most Successful Treatment Methods? 

The best techniques focus on long-term sobriety and recovery rather than just temporary ones. These remedies include:

  1. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): Helps people recognize and change negative thought patterns that may lead to drug or alcohol use.
  2. Motivational Interviewing (MI): Focuses on a person's strengths and goals, even if they've previously been unsuccessful in sobriety.
  3. Group Therapy: This can benefit people motivated to change but struggle on their own.
  4. Individual Therapy: Offers a personal connection and may be more effective for those experiencing strong cravings.
  5. Dialectal Behavioral Therapy (DBT): Teaches people the skills to manage their emotions better and increase stress tolerance.
  6. 12-Step Programs: Involve support from peers and sobriety principles like those of AA and Narcotics Anonymous.
  7. Experiential Therapy: Requires activities such as art or music to help people explore their feelings.
  8. Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT): Utilizes pharmacological therapy to reduce withdrawal symptoms and cravings.
  9. Psychodynamic Therapy: Concentrates on the unconscious mind to identify deep-seated issues that may be causing addiction.
  10. Family Treatment Approach: Involves family members to offer support and accountability.

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How Much Money Does Sobriety Save You?

The sobriety savings are a great perk of sobering up.

Even if you were buying the cheapest alcohol, sobriety could still save you a lot of money. You could be spending an average of $200 to $300 a month on alcohol if you drank alcohol every day. This adds up to around $2,400 to $3,600 a year.

For those with addiction to harder drugs such as cocaine, opiates, and methamphetamines, it can mean saving thousands of dollars a year.

You can use sobriety savings to pay off debts, save for retirement, or invest in a healthier lifestyle.

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Updated on February 6, 2024
9 sources cited
Updated on February 6, 2024
  1. Kelly, J. F., Bergman, B. G., Hoeppner, B. B., Vilsaint, C. L., & White, W. L. "Prevalence and correlates of ever having a substance use problem and substance use recovery status among adults in the United States, 2018." Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 2020.
  2. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. "Alcohol Alert - Relapse and Craving." National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, n.d.
  3. American Addiction Centers. "What Does It Mean to Relapse?" Laguna Treatment Hospital, 2023.
  4. Curry, ]E. J. J. "Drug and alcohol relapse rates spike 150% during the Holidays." ABC12 News, 2022.
  5. Eddie, D., & Kelly, J. "People recover from addiction. they also go on to do good things." STAT, 2021.
  6. Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality. "National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Detailed Tables." Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2016.
  7. Sussex Publishers. "Recovery from Addiction." Psychology Today, n.d.
  8. Thompson, W. "Alcoholism Follow-up." Further Outpatient Care, Prognosis, Patient Education, 2022.
  9. Wagener, D. "Alcoholics Anonymous: The 12 Steps of AA & Success Rates." American Addiction Centers, 2023.

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