First of all, to discuss the average cocaine addiction recovery rate, we’re talking about a bit of a misnomer. Recovery rate simply means the degree of progress towards restoration, which is an individual matter. It’s personal for you, the addict; therefore, there is no “average.”
As far as numbers go, the best estimate we currently have is that 40-60% of recovering addicts experience relapse! Due to the sensitive and anonymous nature of most recovery programs, though, accurate and drug-specific numbers are difficult to obtain. Still, that averages out to 50%. Depending on whether you’re a glass half-empty or glass half-full kind of person, that number might be either defeating or reassuring. Simply put, half of addicts relapse and half don’t.
If you fall into the unlucky category of relapsed addicts, does that mean you’re doomed to fail? Should you give up now? Join us as we investigate:
- what exactly is a relapse?
- how can you see it coming?
- how can you improve your chances of addiction recovery?
What is a Relapse?
A relapse of a chronic medical illness is basically an interruption of treatment, which leads to a setback or re-onset of symptoms. This is true whether you’re talking about addiction or another disease, like diabetes or hypertension. It’s just science. If you quit taking your insulin and move next door to a Krispy Kreme, you’re likely to need your decomposing foot amputated due to a relapse in your diabetes. If you quit going to Cocaine Anonymous and start frequenting nightclubs, your chances of cocaine relapse hit the ceiling.
Let’s go glass-half-empty for a second and assume you’re going to relapse. What now? Does this mean that you’ve failed at cocaine addiction treatment? Honestly, no. Every addiction counselor and their mother will tell you that recovery is a process, and relapse is sometimes a part of that process. They’ll probably give you a hokey analogy, saying that addiction recovery is like a ship’s journey across the ocean. Experiencing a relapse doesn’t mean you’ve shipwrecked, it just means you’ve strayed off course a bit. In fact, relapse is just a part of the voyage. It tells you that your treatment needs to be, for lack of a better word, tweaked.
The goal of substance abuse treatment is obviously to not use drugs anymore, but it’s not that simple. The goal is to teach you to spot a relapse on the horizon and alter your course before it happens. Even more than that, a big focus of treatment is to learn what to do when you’ve already strayed off track. Once you right the ship again, how can you keep it on course? Keep an eye out for the following relapse warning signs as identified by Melemis (2015):
Relapse Warning Signs
- Stuffing your feelings
- Avoiding or not actively participating at meetings
- Avoiding dealing with your own problems via distraction
- Not eating or sleeping well
- Experiencing drug/alcohol cravings (cravings are a normal part of recovery, but it’s important to be mindful of frequency and intensity)
- Reminiscing about or glamourizing past drug use
- Bargaining or making excuses (I’ll only use on holidays, once a year, etc.)
- Hitting up old friends or dealers
- Planning a relapse
This list functions as a cumulative downward spiral. The further you find yourself down the list, the more difficult it is to intervene before a relapse occurs. The sooner you catch yourself spiraling, the better your chances of maintaining sobriety and improving your recovery rate.
Strengthen your Recovery
Life as a recovering addict means being aware of your continued susceptibility to cocaine relapse. Being always aware of it means increasing your odds of avoiding it. A big part of increasing your addiction recovery rate is having a specific and practical aftercare plan or relapse prevention plan in place. This can take many forms and is unique to the individual, but implementing even one of the following practices can lift your odds.
- Don’t do it on your own: getting professional help nearly doubles your recovery rate.
- Spend at least 90 days at treatment. The longer you stay at a cocaine addiction treatment facility, the higher your likelihood of staying clean long-term.
- Dig up the roots: active participation in individual counseling several times a week (at least initially) can help you identify and treat the underlying causes of your cocaine addiction.
- Participate in programs that facilitate a step-by-step transition into daily life, offering guidance in handling everyday stressors
- Learn to identify your stressors and how to cope with them.
- Develop and maintain a support system. Active participation in recovery groups is crucial to long-term sobriety.
- Cut it out: remove everything cocaine-related from your life. If your razor-sliced coffee table reminds you of all the times you used there, get rid of it and find a new place to set your morning coffee. Leave no room for cocaine or its residue in your life.
- Learn to recognize relapse warning signs and know when to implement your relapse prevention plan.
Every decent gambler knows that the secret to winning is having good odds. They also know that odds are a fluid and pliable thing. If you want to win, you’ve got to do everything you can to sway the odds in your favor. The guy who just walks up to the window and lays down money for Seabiscuit to win the Triple Crown is likely going to walk away with one less Benjamin in his pockets. The gambler who takes the time to study the horses and to investigate some hot tips increases his odds of winning significantly.
What does this mean for you as a cocaine addict? It means that if the odds of recovery don’t look to be in your favor, you have the power to change them. If you feel like you don’t have any will power, there are people and professionals who can help you along the way. Use what is within your control to boost your own personal recovery rate, but don’t forget you cannot do this alone.
Remember the study that said 40-60% of recovering addicts relapse? That refers only to drug users who sought professional help. That number shoots up to 50-90% of cocaine users who relapse trying to quit on their own (Cocaine Addiction Recovery Statistics, n.d.). Just by manipulating one variable—seeking professional help—the risk of relapse is cut almost in half. By using all the tricks in the book, you have to power to improve your own cocaine addiction recovery rate even more.