Drug Addiction Recovery Statistics

If you search for recent statistics regarding drug addiction recovery in the United States, you may end your search feeling confused, and perhaps demoralized. There aren’t many numbers out there, and the ones you do see look discouraging. It’s important to note, however, that drug addiction is incredibly hard to define, and the statistics reported may be misleading. Confidentiality laws, coupled with the fluid nature of recovery, make nailing down accurate data a challenge. What we candecisively derive from data, however, is that comprehensive treatment overwhelmingly increases an addict’s chances of long-lasting recovery.

Reasons for Confidentiality

Because drug abuse and addiction are still stigmatized in our society, individuals are unlikely to readily admit to their condition. The list of people who enter drug treatment facilities is held in the strictest confidence, so it’s difficult, even for research agencies, to get a hold of accurate numbers. This secrecy is expected, not only because of American confidentiality laws, but due to a number of other practical reasons. Addicts in recovery might not want to let their current or future employers know of their addiction, or they might want to keep it from their family or other relationships. They may want to remain confidential to protect their children, or their name. These are all understandable reasons to not disclose a drug addiction, but they do make it difficult to reliably track the epidemiology of substance abuse in the U.S.

The Difficulty in Nailing Down Statistics

Even top drug treatment and recovery centers are not required to provide identifying information to research agencies. The information these agencies do receive is limited to just the number of admissions and the drugs of choice reported on the admittance forms. So while we can see a breakdown between types of drugs, we might not be able to discern an accurate number of abusers.

For example, a person may enroll in an outpatient program before deciding that inpatient treatment would be a better option. The data would count that person twice–once for enrolling in outpatient treatment, another for enrolling in inpatient. You might think “couldn’t this problem be eliminated by recording the patient’s name?” That’s probably true, but many users are likely to forgo treatment if they knew they would have to disclose personal information to do so. It’s infinitely better for people to feel they can go to treatment safely, than to sacrifice that confidentiality for the sake of statistics.

Get Help for Drug Addiction

Alta Mira is a Safe Place to Get Your Life on Track

Defining Successful Treatment

Not only is it difficult to determine the exact number of people entering and leaving treatment, but the definition of recovery is also fluid. Technically speaking, the only way to monitor whether or not an individual has been successful in their treatment program is by taking a blood or urine sample to test for the presence of drugs. Easy, right?

Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. Sure, a urine test can tell us whether or not a recovering addict has taken drugs in the past 30 days, but what does that actually prove? That they did an 180 and will never use again? That they have used recently, so their treatment program failed? There are no conclusive answers to these questions. In fact, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, relapse is a defining characteristic of addiction. It is often part of the recovery journey, and slipping up and using drugs one or two times again does not automatically make someone a failure. The benchmarks for recovery vary by case, and treatment can be successful even if relapse occurs. If treatment has started someone on the path to sobriety, to turning their life around, it should be counted as successful (though a urine test wouldn’t back that up), even if they still have a few steps to go.

Effective Recovery Programs

While all addicts respond differently to treatment, research reveals certain methods of treatment are generally more effective than others. The following criteria for a program have been shown to increase the chances of personal success:

  • The recovery program is holistic, and addresses the multiple needs of each individual, paying attention to mental health issues, lifestyle, and culture.
  • The program’s length of time is adequate for the person’s needs, usually lasting at least three months.
  • The treatment isn’t rigid, but adapts to the individual’s changing needs and priorities
  • The program continues after detoxification with ongoing treatment

Rather than focusing on the lack of recovery statistics or information available concerning someone else’s idea of recovery, concentrate on you or your loved one’s own likelihood for personal success. To do this, be sure to find the best treatment programs to work with your needs, towards your own vision of success.

Give us a call to learn more about how we can help you find the most effective treatment program for recovery, and start you or your loved one down the path to meaningful change.