You have to take addiction recovery percentages with a grain of salt. The problem is that it is inherently difficult or even impossible to get truly accurate data from large groups of people who are trying to stay clean and sober. The reason it is inherently difficult is because there is a huge factor involved that is bound to skew the results every time and that factor is shame and guilt. Addicts and alcoholics who are trying to stay sober do not obviously want to admit to themselves and to others when they have screwed up and relapsed, yet this is what happens the majority of the time. We know from hundreds of different studies that the numbers are not great and that the vast majority of people do not stay clean and sober. So when they send out a survey to 500 recovering addicts and ask them all if they are still clean and sober today, one year after leaving rehab, how many of them do you think fudge the numbers a bit out of shame, guilt, and hurt pride? Quite a few.
Most reasonable studies put the number of success at around 5 percent. This percentage is good on a per year basis, then on a 5 year basis. So if you take 100 people who are trying to get clean and sober, approximately 5 percent of them will make it to 30 days sober.
Now if you take 100 people who all made it to that 30 day mark, then you can also figure that 5 percent of those people will make it to a year of sobriety.
So that is more like 2.5 percent of your original hundred.
Now again, if you take 100 people who make it to a year sober, only about 5 of them will make it to 5 years clean.
So it sort of drops off over time, and the trend seems to continue even as time goes on. You would think that making it to a year clean would insure that most people would “have it figured it out” and that most of them would be “set for life” as far as recovery goes, but this turns out to not be the case. Vigilance is key, because the real enemy in long term recovery is complacency. It is not so much about drinking or doing drugs, but people get lazy and stop helping other addicts and their addiction can sneak back up on them in very unusual ways. For example, the alcoholic who gets hooked on pain medication after a random injury or illness.
Just goes to show that you have to be on guard against relapse, no matter how long you have been clean and sober.