Published On: August 15, 2022|Categories: Addiction and Substance Abuse, Education Center|

Talking about relapse is hard. It can be terrifying if you or someone you know is in recovery. There’s no reason to be superstitious that bringing up relapse will trigger it. 

In fact, the opposite is generally the case. The more knowledgeable you are about addiction relapse statistics, warning signs and the nature of addiction, the more likely you are to minimize the potential for a relapse.

Here’s what you need to know to stay on track and achieve the freedom you want.

Addiction is a disease

Understanding relapse begins with understanding what addiction is, and how an addiction forms.

Failure to overcome substance use was once considered a moral failure, a weakness of character. In the past 50 years, science has changed our understanding of addictive substances and their effect on the brain and the body’s reward circuitry. 

It’s now well accepted that addiction is a chronic brain disease, worthy of treatment just like other chronic conditions like diabetes and asthma. The American Psychiatric Association defines substance use disorders as the uncontrollable continued use of drugs and alcohol despite negative consequences.

Since relapse is a sudden regression after a period of improvement, a relapse for substance use would mean returning to drugs or alcohol after a period of sobriety. A relapse rarely refers to a slip up that happens once or a few times. It generally denotes a spiral back into a full-fledged addiction with all its subsequent repercussions.

Just like diabetes and asthma, a relapse can be prevented with the right treatment, lifestyle changes and vigilance towards warning signs of regression. A healthcare team can equip you to avoid relapse altogether.

Addiction relapse statistics 

The nature of addiction means that relapse is sadly quite common. It’s estimated that around 40 to 60 percent of individuals in treatment for substance use disorders will relapse, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. 

While the relapse rates are high and differ for each substance, it is important to have an understanding of the statistics. Below are addiction relapse statistics regarding the most commonly abused substances.


Opioids are often considered the most addictive type of drug. A study in the Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine states that relapse rates for opioid addicts are as high as 91 percent.


A study in the journal Addiction found that rates for alcohol addiction relapse were between 40 and 62 percent, depending on when the individual sought help, whether they attended treatment before and how long they had struggled with an addiction. Other studies report alcohol relapse rates as high as 80 percent within the first year.


Those who use stimulants, like cocaine and amphetamine, are estimated to have a 50 percent relapse rate within the first year. Seventy-five percent of individuals who receive treatment for stimulant abuse are likely to relapse within the first five years following treatment according to a study from Substance Use and Addiction.


Rates for marijuana relapse were high as well. The journal Biological Psychiatry found that roughly 49 percent of participants who sought care for a marijuana addiction relapse within the first day that marijuana was available after treatment.

Drug and alcohol relapse rates are high, but that doesn’t mean relapse is inevitable. Anyone can overcome addiction with the right mindset, treatment and support. 

What are some risk factors for relapse

A study in the journal Current Psychiatry Reports found that there are biological predictive factors of relapse during and after treatment. Their findings include the following risk factors for addiction relapse.

  • Stress
  • Experiences of trauma
  • Depressive symptoms
  • Cravings
  • Cortisol and adrenaline sensitivity (high cortisol levels at resting rate)
  • Medial frontal gray matter volume
  • Functional response in the cingulate cortex

Relapse is common, but it’s not inevitable, even if you present with the above mentioned risk factors. Anyone can succumb to urges to use again, but anyone can conquer them, too.

Conquer substance use for good

If you’ve struggled to overcome substance use or have relapsed in the past, you can break out of the cycle of addiction. Don’t let addiction relapse statistics discourage you— use them as fuel to be in the percentage of people who make it through to live successful, full and sober lives.

Rehab After Work can help you get your life back on track without compromising what matters. Flexible scheduling and convenient hours help you to prioritize work and family life. Don’t let yourself make any more excuses. Call Rehab After Work today.

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