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Drug Addiction Statistics: Percentage of Addiction Relapse

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Addiction relapse is not uncommon for those in recovery for the first time. Addiction is a disease that impairs the brain, including the parts that make you feel pleasure. Oftentimes, trying to stop or cut down on drinking alcohol or drugs leads to emotional and physical problems.

It’s widely understood that drugs and alcohol can ruin a person’s life, or that many people who get clean often end up relapsing. Less commonly known are the specific numbers and figures behind substance abuse.

Drug Addiction Statistics

Addiction is a primary public health concern in the United States. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 19.7 million of the United States population 12 and up age group admits to having addiction problems, including 74% of adults.

The number of young drug users is increasing at a steady rate as well. This government national survey on drug use and health data shows that the percentage of teens who have tried illicit drugs has increased from 18% in 2017 to 46% in 2021. Additionally, the percentage of teens who admit to drinking alcohol has increased from 23% in 2017 to 61% in 2021. That’s well over half of all high schoolers.

The American Psychiatric Association (APA) estimates that close to 7 million people have substance use disorder and some other form of mental illness. An estimated 23 million Americans suffer from some form of addiction. Still, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the highest rates of drug addiction are reported in states like Kentucky and Florida.

What is Addiction Relapse, and How Does it Happen?

Drug addiction relapse is when a person continues or starts to use drugs again after having stopped. This is why it is so important that addicts continue with treatment and stay consistent with a proper detox program. Understanding the cycle of addiction can give even more insight into drug misusers’ feelings and thoughts when going through treatment.

When you’re fighting drug addiction, relapse is a word you don’t want to hear at any time. But relapse can be a reality for recovering addicts trying to adjust to a new life without their substance of choice. A person’s first relapse often comes as a total surprise because while many people know that relapses are common, they aren’t prepared for one themselves.

There are many reasons why addiction relapses happen. Relapse triggers are any stimuli that can prompt the desire, temptation, or craving to act on a compulsion, like binge drinking. Relapse triggers can be events, emotions, thoughts, surroundings, people, and even feelings.

Whether it be family, financial, academic, psychological, or other reasons that may lead to relapse, it helps to understand the root causes of addiction as it allows people to maintain sobriety successfully.

The Percentage of Addiction Relapse

Relapse is a common occurrence in drug rehabilitation programs. The United States Department of Health and Human Services reports that approximately 3-5% of individuals in substance abuse treatment centers also experience relapse. However, these percentages can vary slightly based on the type of substance abused, length of time since the initial assessment, age of the individual, co-occurring disorders, and family support.

The relapse rate amongst drug addicts varies depending on the type of drug they are addicted to but is generally between 40 and 60 percent. Smoking, alcohol, and marijuana have a considerably lower relapse rate than drugs like cocaine and heroin. Programs that give recovering addicts continued support have a much higher success rate.

According to statistical data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as many as 1 in 3 drug addicts relapse within the first year of their recovery program, and 1 in 5 relapses within 10 years. 

Interestingly enough, they find the rate of relapse is higher closer to when the person stopped using drugs. Meaning, many people’s sobriety doesn’t last long, and the longer you are sober, the more likely you will stay sober. 

Drug Relapse Warning Signs

Addiction relapse is a common occurrence for many recovering addicts. The relapse process often follows the same pattern time and again. Relapse is common with many types of substance abuse, including heroin, methamphetamine, alcohol, or cocaine.

The craving for a drug is the number one warning sign of relapse and should be taken seriously. The warning signs for a drug relapse include:


  • Isolating oneself
  • Not going to treatment or meetings
  • Going to meetings but not sharing
  • Bottling up emotions
  • Poor eating and sleeping habits
  • Not taking care of self mentally or physically
  • Denial
  • Relaxing of self-imposed rules


  • Drug cravings
  • Thinking about people and places associated with past drug use
  • Romanticizing past drug use
  • Minimizing consequences
  • Bargaining with self
  • Lying to others
  • Thinking about how to control drug use better next time
  • Planning a relapse or looking for opportunities


  • Using drugs “just once.”
  • Returning to uncontrolled use

How to Avoid Addiction Relapse

The key to avoiding relapse is prevention. Whenever someone slips back into addiction, oftentimes it’s because they didn’t understand the triggers that caused their addiction in the first place. Taking the time to educate yourself and work with professionals to be prepared for triggers will give you the best chance of success. 

It’s not easy to learn how to properly deal with stress, but there are some tricks you can use to avoid falling back into your old habits:

  1. Get into a comprehensive addiction treatment program
  2. Attend your treatment program regularly
  3. Develop and follow through on your aftercare plan
  4. Build a support group to keep in touch with after treatment
  5. Find a personal therapist for ongoing individual therapy
  6. Participate in meetings or other recovery support groups
  7. Discover some new hobbies
  8. Get your body moving and learn simple ways to improve your nutrition
  9. Write a journal
  10. Ask for help

Treatment in Santa Ana, CA

The road to addiction treatment can be a very difficult one. The challenging journey of maintaining long-term sobriety often stirs up difficult emotions, such as loneliness, self-doubt, disappointment, boredom, and more. Recovery can also come with feelings of guilt over the damage done to oneself and others. Luckily, there are counselors who can help you properly process and handle those feelings. 

Call Pacific Sands Recovery Center or visit our contact form to learn more about our program. We strive to teach you coping skills and techniques to overcome your cravings, so you can build the healthy and happy life you deserve.

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  • I would just like to share how Grateful I am with my experience through my addiction at this facility. I couldn’t possibly ask to be in such a “SAFE/COMFORTABLE” environment while receiving treatment for my addiction. I would just like to say Thank you sooo much to ALL the staff there from the Nurse’s to counselors and therapist all of you are a True Blessing in helping me through my journey of sobriety. I couldn’t feel more comfortable there on how they monitored my physical health and on dealing with my emotional health with there therapy sessions and groups I truly see them ALL as Family!

    Andrew N.
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  • Great Staff. Comfortable Environment. Awesome place to Get Clean and Sober. Thank you guys for everything.


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