Ten Percent of American Adults Report Being in Recovery from Substance Abuse or Addiction
Data Show More Than 23 Million Adults Living in U.S. Once Had Drug or Alcohol Problems, But No Longer Do
Survey data released by The Partnership at Drugfree.org and The New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) show that 10 percent of all American adults, ages 18 and older, consider themselves to be in recovery from drug or alcohol abuse problems. These nationally representative findings indicate that there are 23.5 million American adults who are overcoming an involvement with drugs or alcohol that they once considered to be problematic.
According to the new survey funded by OASAS, 10 percent of adults surveyed said yes to the question, “Did you once have a problem with drugs or alcohol, but no longer do?” – one simple way of describing recovery from drug and alcohol abuse or addiction.
“The OASAS study 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,” said Steve Pasierb, President and CEO of The Partnership at Drugfree.org. “This new learning provides a big reason – more than 23 million reasons – for all those who are struggling with their own, or a loved one’s substance use disorder, to have hope and know that they are not alone. These findings serve as a reminder that addiction is a treatable disease and recovery can be a reality. We are just scratching the surface here and more research is needed in this area, but we are proud to collaborate with New York OASAS in this meaningful process.”
“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,” said New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) Commissioner Arlene González-Sánchez. “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.”
Other self-reported findings from the new data conclude that:
- More males say they are in recovery than females (12 percent vs. 7 percent).
- More adults ages 35-44 report being in recovery, compared to younger adults (18-34) and adults who are 55 years of age or older.
The study also found no significant difference between parents and adults without children who say they are in recovery. This demonstrates that parents are as likely as non-parents to be in recovery.
“This new research also supports findings from a groundbreaking survey done for Faces and Voices of Recovery by Peter Hart Associates that provided the initial evidence that there was a large population in recovery in the United States,” said Tom Hedrick, Senior Program Officer and one of the founding members of The Partnership at Drugfree.org. “Those 2004 findings concluded that ‘38 percent of adults have a family member or close friend (or both) who is in recovery from addiction to alcohol or other drugs.’”
Insights from Experts in the Field of Substance Abuse and Addiction:
“I’ve learned that there is ‘a science of addiction, but not a science of recovery.’ With the survey conducted by The Partnership at Drugfree.org and OASAS, we now have a very strong beginning to developing that science. Through past initiatives, we established some sensible definitions of what ‘being in recovery’ actually means – and this additional work provides fundamental information on how many people are in recovery. These are not only the building blocks for the ‘recovery science’ that have been called for, but they are the foundation for public understanding, acceptance and ultimately, the celebration of recovery.” – A. Thomas McLellan, PhD, Former Deputy Director, White House Office of National Drug Control Policy
“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. This study 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.” — Keith Humphreys, Professor of Psychiatry at Stanford University School of Medicine
“As these findings demonstrate, recovery is everywhere. All across our country people are living healthy and productive lives in long-term recovery from addiction to alcohol and other drugs, benefiting themselves, their families and communities. Recovery is our best kept secret. It’s time to invest in understanding the solution to alcohol and other drug problems, advocate for the right resources to recover and demonstrate the power and proof of long-term recovery, offering hope to the over 23 million Americans who have yet to find recovery.” — Pat Taylor, Executive Director, Faces and Voices of Recovery
“This research is vitally important – it shows that, until now, even addiction experts have been unaware of how many people across the country are in sustained recovery. We often hear about the latest celebrity’s bad behavior, but it’s rare for the public to see people overcome their addictions, achieve their goals, and go on to become great parents, employees, citizens, etc. The public won’t know these success stories unless we tell them, and that’s what this research does. It breaks new ground and provides tremendous inspiration for those who are currently struggling with drug and/or alcohol problems and their families.” – Deni Carise, PhD, Chief Clinical Officer, Phoenix House Foundation