Survey Finds that 23.5 Million Americans are Recovering from Substance Abuse

A new survey conducted by two drug agencies has found that more than 23 million U.S. adults say that they once had an alcohol or drug problem but have overcome it. That means that 10 percent of all Americans over the age of 18 are now in recovering from a substance abuse disorder.

This is a surprisingly high estimate that could indicate that the drug problem in America is more serious than previously believed.  It is even  more likely that the stigma associated with having a drug or alcohol problem is less.

The survey found that more men than women admit to being in recovery (12 percent compared to 7 percent). The largest age group in recovery is adults aged 35 to 44. There was no significant difference in the responses of people with children compared to those without children, indicating that parents are just as likely to be in recovery as non-parents are.

Anyone who reads a newspaper or watches television news is aware of the magnitude of the problem of drug addiction in the United States, but the positive story of addiction recovery receives far less coverage. The survey indicates that there are millions of adults who are in recovery and leading productive and healthy lives. Ken Humphreys, a psychiatrist at the Stanford University School of Medicine, calls the survey “a wake-up call to the reality of recovery in America.”

According to Steve Pasierb, CEO and President of The Partnership at Drugfree.org, the results of the survey should help convince those who are dealing with their own or a loved one’s substance abuse issues that they are not alone and that recovery is possible.

The survey was conducted by The Partnership at Drugfree.org and the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS). Survey participants were asked to answer the question “Did you once have a problem with drugs or alcohol, but no longer do?” The survey included a national sampling of more than 2500 adults living in private households. Survey subjects were contacted by phone (both landline and cell phone).

While the survey is useful for providing raw data about the number of adults who feel they have overcome a problem with drugs or alcohol, it does not provide information about how they recovered (through a treatment facility, 12-step program or on their own) and whether or not they are currently involved in a recovery program. It also does not identify the rate of substance abuse relapse.

The Partnership at Drugfree.org is a national organization that recognizes that 90 percent of addictions start in adolescence and is dedicated to helping families fight the problem of teen substance abuse.