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How Likely Is Someone To Relapse

If someone completes drug treatment, how likely are they to Relapse?


The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports relapse rates for drug addiction (40-60%) are similar to those of less negatively regarded chronic illnesses, such as Type I diabetes (30-50%), hypertension (50-70%) and asthma (50-70%). However, unlike other chronic diseases, there are obstacles to drug treatment, in spite of the Affordable Care Act, as discussed in the New York Times by Haymarket’s Jeff Collord. Just as for other chronic diseases, relapse into drug addiction needs to be viewed as a signal for renewed intervention. In addition to relapse rates, there are other similarities across all these chronic illnesses:

1) treatment must address both biological and behavioral components, 2) recovery requires prolonged abstinence and restored functioning which is a long-term process with multiple treatment episodes, 3) relapses can occur during or after treatment, and participation in support groups during and after treatment are a strong indicator of sustained long-term recovery.

Treatment often requires several attempts. For most clients, it takes on average 6-7 different treatment attempts over a course of years before someone can reach a period of sustained recovery of a year or longer. What can complicate this tends to be the age a person developed their addiction. The earlier the age of initiation into drug use, the longer recovery takes, usually decades. This is why having access to immediate treatment at different levels of care is critical for the treatment of addictions. Further, treating any medical, psychiatric and addiction issue in combination is crucial and should not be done separately. If the treatment process is handled separately, it tends to cause a relapse in the other conditions.

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