One in ten Americans have quit drugs or alcohol, according to New York State’s Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services. More than one in three have given up cigarettes.
The survey found that most people in recovery are men between 35 and 44. Perhaps surprisingly, parents are as likely to report being in recovery as people without children.
These findings show that addiction– and recovery– are far more common than many people, even many experts, realized. They also show that recovery is possible for just about anyone. Unfortunately, the stigma around substance abuse often prevents people from seeking and accepting the help they need. It can be difficult for an addict to admit to being an addict, with all that the label implies. Substance addiction is a disease. Because addiction can lead not only to personal problems but also to health problems, such as stroke, hepatitis, and lung disease, it is important that substance abusers be encouraged to embark on a recovery process.
It is possible to recover on one’s own– even some of the heroin users in the study had recovered without formal treatment– but most people with addiction problems will benefit from some sort of treatment and rehabilitation program. This program should be tailored to the needs of the patient; no one approach is best for everybody. However, a treatment program should be grounded in scientifically sound, evidence-based techniques.