odds of recovering from heroin addiction

What percentage of opiate addicts stay clean?

Recovering from addiction is one of the most challenging things that a person can do. This is especially true in cases of opiate addictions. Heroin is a powerful addiction to overcome, but the same goes for pain medications and other opiates. 

When you do get clean, though, the challenge persists as you try to stay clean. We’re going to look at the odds of recovering from heroin addiction today, exploring the numbers on what percent of opiate addicts stay clean. 

We’ll also look at some of the factors that go into a successful recovery. Let’s get started.

What Percent of Opiate Addicts Stay Clean?

The nature of addiction makes it very likely for an individual to experience a relapse the first time they get sober. It’s a process that many people find their way through after a few tries. 

There’s a learning process associated with time spent on the path to recovery. Managing cravings, setting boundaries, and dealing with the physical pain of addiction and withdrawals requires a lot of fortitude. 

As a result of this challenge, it’s thought that around 40 to 60 per cent of people who kick opiates will relapse on their first time getting clean. In particular, those in the first year of their recovery will experience that rate of potential relapse. 

After you beat the one-year mark, your odds of relapse start to creep downward. It’s important to note, though, that relapse is always a possibility. Addiction persists throughout a person’s life in a lot of cases. 

That isn’t to say that the experience remains the same throughout the whole life cycle, though. The first year can be agonizing and difficult to manage. As the risk of relapse reduces, so do the cravings and difficulty. 

A person who kicks heroin in their mid-twenties might still experience trouble with their addiction in old age, but it might not be anywhere near as intense as it was when they first stopped. 

Dangers of Relapse

Relapse is dangerous for a number of reasons. For one, you’re entering back into the life that you worked so hard to leave behind. Active substance abuse, especially with opiates, always holds the chance of overdose. 

Not to mention that addiction will drive you to do things that might be dangerous or harmful. On the other hand, though, relapse isn’t the same as your average instance of use. 

If you’ve recovered for any significant amount of time, your tolerance will be a lot lower than it was when you were using drugs. Tolerance starts to diminish right away, but it takes a week or two for the difference to be very significant. 

The trouble with low tolerance and relapse is the fact that many people return to their previous dosages. You might have been using high dosages when you quit, but your body was able to process that level of toxicity at that point. 

A person works up to higher tolerances as they seek the same experience through more of the substance. When you relapse and use the same amount you once did, you put yourself at a high risk of overdose. 

A lot of individuals experience a fatal overdose when they relapse for this very reason. 

Tips for Maintaining Sobriety

Just because the numbers say one thing doesn’t mean that you’re fated to experience a relapse. 

Relapse rates are high because addiction recovery is very hard. There are a lot of mental and physical hurdles to jump through as you make your way to clean and sober living. 

The first year is when a lot of those obstacles present themselves. It’s smart to have a strict plan for yourself to follow when you leave recovery. Keeping yourself accountable for that first year is what will ward off the potential for an overdose. 

That plan requires that you make some difficult decisions. You might have to examine your life and relationships to find out where the highest potential for cravings and relapses are. Maybe there’s a friend group that you’ve had for decades, but it turns out that they’re still using opiates. 

Even though they might support your decision to get sober, they still use heroin around you and ask you to come along when they’re hanging out. That environment is one that poses a high risk for relapse. 

Those relationships might not be compatible with your new life. The same goes for people who don’t support your sobriety or aren’t willing to see you for who you want to become. 

So, planning to rearrange those relationships and have some hard conversations might be something that has to be done. 

Planning for Cravings 

Another thing that you can expect is intense cravings. Cravings will come around based on stimuli in your environment. In most cases, that stimuli comes from things that you once associated with drug use. 

Maybe you drive down a particular street and start feeling the way you did when you were driving to pick up drugs. There could be a restaurant that you and an ex-partner would go to after taking drugs. 

Your bedroom might have the ghosts of your addiction as well, reminding you of the way it felt to be high. These things are all potential triggers. 

Before you step out and get into your new and sober life, try to scour your mind for all of the things that would be intense triggers. You can typically think of a few of the most prominent ones right off of the bat. 

Think about the best way for you to handle those triggers if they arise. How will you get out of the situation? What will you do to let the cravings pass?

Create an escape plan, memorize it, and use it when those triggers knock.

Want to Learn More about Recovery?

Hopefully, the heroin facts and advice above will be helpful to you as you get sober. Understanding what percent of opiate addicts stay clean is important to contextualize what you might be up against when you go through the first year. 

We’re here to help you with more statistical information on recovery from opiate addiction. Contact us to get help with recovery options, methods of treatment, and more insight into staying clean.