Even after undergoing alcohol or drug treatment, the sad truth is that many dependent individuals relapse shortly thereafter. Common relapse rates vary by chemical substance, with some forms of chemical dependency proving more difficult to treat by the majority of recovery programs. In fact, a 1998 study by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration (SAMHSA) found that common relapse rates were incredibly high, though they varied significantly by the chemical of choice.
Comparison of Common Relapse Rates in Drug Dependency
Alcohol recovery showed a surprisingly high relapse rate, with nearly 86 percent of those entering alcohol recovery programs returning to dependency within five years. On the whole, drug treatment relapse rates were nearly as dismal, with 79 percent of those who completed drug recovery programs using again within the same timeframe.
PCP, inhalants and hallucinogen dependency experience some of the lowest relapse rates in the country, with only 40 to 46 percent of chemically dependent people returning to use within five years of treatment. “Downers” and methamphetamines offered dependent individuals recovery rates that were not much better than a coin flip, with 56 percent of meth users and 51 percent of downer-dependent individuals returning to use within five years.
The worst results were in those chemically dependent on heroin, with relapse rates of 87 percent after drug treatment. Crack experiences the second highest relapse rate with nearly 84 percent of crack users returning to use, as compared to just over half of cocaine users (55 percent). Over two-thirds (69 percent) of narcotics-dependent individuals also relapsed within five years. Even marijuana, considered by many to be a “soft drug” with fewer addictive properties, left 72 percent of dependent individuals returning to use after undergoing treatment.
Rising Above Common Relapse Rates
Some recovery programs have relapse rates as low as 15 percent—despite the fact that many 12-step programs have relapse rates nearly five times that high. Select a treatment program with a proven, successful track record that will help you obtain sustaining freedom from drugs and alcohol.