FAQ: I want to Get Sober, But I’m Scared of Relapsing. What are the Odds of Me Being Successful in Recovery?

Many people want to get clean, but the fear of relapse holds them back. However, this is dangerous thinking. After all, treatment makes it more likely you’ll get clean. Not seeking treatment because you’re afraid of relapse means you’ll never get clean.

It’s hard to struggle with an addiction. It clouds your thoughts. Addictions constantly look for ways to protect themselves. Choosing to not seek treatment is an example of this.

People are put off when they read articles that talk about how recovery programs don’t work.

The actual odds that you’ll be successful in recovery depends on the type of program you use. Programs that treat addiction as a question of willpower or morality are more likely to fail. Programs that use science and evidence-based treatment are more likely to be successful.



Facts and Figures for Recovery Treatment

It’s important to understand the facts and figures for recovery treatment success. Many people are intimidated by the numbers. However, it’s important to understand what a success and what a failure is for drug and alcohol rehab.

Most national experts claim that only 30% of people stay clean one year after treatment. However, this number is deceptive. There are a few reasons this is true.

First, this number includes all types of recovery programs. It doesn’t filter out programs based on outdated or flawed methods. Many treatment centers treat addiction as a moral failure. This view treats people with substance abuse disorders as broken. They frequently rely on fear and shame-based tactics. These don’t work.

Another problem many treatment facilities have is that they focus on addiction as a question of willpower. This ignores all modern science. Evidence shows that addiction is a brain disease. Treating like a disease increases the odds of success.

Finally, these numbers don’t factor in other variables. These include inpatient vs outpatient treatment, length of the program, or even whether someone completed the program.

The most important thing that separates quality recovery programs from the rest is the use of evidence-based treatment. This approach treats addiction as a brain disease. It looks at what methods worked best in the past. It tries to replicate and expand on those success.

Other treatment approaches don’t have this viewpoint. After all, if you view addiction as a moral issue, then someone’s relapse is their fault, not the program’s.

Another benefit of evidence-based treatment programs is that they combine medication and therapy. This blend of approaches increases the chances of success. There’s been many advances in addiction science. For example, Opioid Replacement Therapy was almost unheard of as little as 10 years ago. This process uses medicine to reduce withdrawal symptoms while a person gets clean. As a result, in boosts the odds that a person can stay clean.

Relapse Isn’t Failure

It’s also important to understand that relapse isn’t failure. This view of relapse uses the morality and willpower models of addiction. These models aren’t effective. They don’t account for the latest research and discoveries regarding addiction treatment.  

Fear of Addiction Relapse

Relapse can be a part of the recovery journey. After all, most people don’t do anything right the first time. Also, relapse can provide important insights to help you get clean. You can talk over the issues that caused you to relapse. This gives you a better idea of how you respond to different situations. As a result, you can work on better ways to stay clean.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse says “when relapse occurs many deem treatment a failure. This is not the case: successful treatment for addiction typically requires continual evaluation and modification as appropriate, similar to the approach taken with other chronic diseases.”

For example, imagine someone being treated for high blood pressure. Their blood pressure goes down while they’re being treated. However, after they stop treatment, their blood pressure goes back up. That doesn’t mean the treatment failed. Addiction recovery is no different. You need to learn to forgive yourself if you ever want to get clean.

Additionally, different recovery programs work better for different people. Let’s go back to the example of someone with high blood pressure. That person might have a friend who also has the condition. A treatment that works for one may not work for the other. That doesn’t mean the treatment is at fault. It also doesn’t mean the person is at fault. It just means that a different approach is needed.

Relapse isn’t a sign your treatment failed. It also doesn’t mean that you’re doomed to a life of addiction. Instead, it means you need to rethink your approach to treatment. 12-step programs work for some people. Other people get no benefit from them. Some people benefit from all-natural detox treatments. Others respond better to replacement therapy. Relapse doesn’t mean you failed. It means you need to keep trying.

Don’t Let Fear of Relapse Stop You

No one should be forced to live with an addiction. Everyone deserves a shot at getting clean. However, it’s more than a shot. Getting clean is a process. Any process has both progress and setbacks. Addiction recovery is no different.

Some people get clean on their first try. Others don’t. The most important thing is that you learn from your experiences. If you relapse you need to understand what caused you to do so. Use that information to find an addiction treatment program that can help with your specific needs.

It may take a few efforts to find the best strategy for you. After all, no one can tell the future. However, the worst option is to do nothing. Don’t let your fear of relapse stop you from trying to get clean. That just dooms you to a life of addiction.

Remember, addiction is a disease. You wouldn’t avoid treating high blood pressure because of fear. You shouldn’t avoid seeking addiction treatment out of fear either.

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