One in 10 Americans Recovering From Substance Abuse

Ten percent of adult Americans (23.5 million persons) consider themselves to be in recovery from drug or alcohol abuse, results of a new survey reveal.

“These findings serve as a reminder that addiction is a treatable disease and recovery can be a reality,” Steve Pasierb, President and CEO of the Partnership at Drugfree.org, which conducted the survey, said in a written statement.

The survey is “an important contribution to the public’s understanding of recovery, as it represents the actual voices of millions of Americans whose lives have improved because they are living free of alcohol and other drug problems,” he added.

Arlene González-Sánchez, Commissioner of the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS), which co-funded the survey, said: “This research marks a vitally important step for those who are struggling with addiction by offering clear evidence to support what many know experientially — that millions of Americans have found a path to recovery.”

“It is my hope that this new evidence will strengthen and inspire individuals and those that provide treatment and recovery services to help the broader community understand that treatment does work and recovery is possible,” she added.

Opinion Research Corporation conducted the survey in 2011 among a nationally representative sample of 1272 men and 1254 women aged 18 years and older living in the United States. The margin of error was ±2 percentage points.

Ten percent of those surveyed answered “yes” to the question, “Did you once have a problem with drugs or alcohol, but no longer do?”

Positive Message

More men than women reported being in recovery (12% vs 7%). More adults between the ages of 35 and 44 years reported being in recovery compared with younger adults (those aged 18 to 34 years) and adults aged 55 years or older.

The Midwest had a higher prevalence of adults (14%) who said they are in recovery compared with the South (7%); reported rates of recovery are 11% in the West and 9% in the Northeast.

“Every American is acutely aware of the negative impact of drug and alcohol addiction; it’s impossible to ignore. Yet we have somehow missed a very positive story about addiction that is right in front of our nose: Tens of millions of our fellow citizens come out the other side to live substance-free, healthy and productive lives,” Keith Humphreys, PhD, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences said in a statement.

“This study,” he said, “is a wake-up call to the reality of recovery in America, as well as a source of hope for the millions of American families who are currently struggling with drug and alcohol problems.”

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