Twenty years ago, there was a movie called Sliding Doors that followed two different timelines: one when the protagonist makes it onto her train before the sliding doors close, and the other when she does not quite get there in time. The outcomes are vastly different, as you might expect from a Hollywood movie.

Lives can follow drastically different timelines depending on whether or not a person with addiction receives the addiction treatment he or she needs to have a successful, long-term recovery.

In 2016, an estimated 20 million Americans over age 12 had a substance abuse disorder, with alcohol addictions being the most common. What is more, nearly half of adults in the US have a close friend or family member with an addiction. The difference that addiction treatment makes is significant and unequivocal.

A Snapshot of Life in Addiction

Though addiction can affect anyone of any age and from any background, on average, the age at which recovery begins is 36, after an average addiction length of 18 years. Of people spending their lives in addiction, an astounding 70 percent experience financial difficulty, and nearly one-quarter use hospital emergency departments frequently for health issues.

Two-thirds of people living with addiction also have untreated mental health problems, and more than half have been arrested. Over one-third have lost their driver’s license, and half have been fired or suspended from their job. However, addicts are not by definition “bad people.” Around 31 percent do volunteer work and 61 percent vote.

A Snapshot of Life in Recovery

Life in addiction recovery helps people have the kind of life that makes life worth living. As recovery progresses, finances improve, with people paying bills on time more frequently and paying back personal debt at higher rates. Use of emergency departments for health issues declines by an amazing factor of 10.

Furthermore, addiction treatment results in a significant decrease in the level of untreated mental health problems and essentially eliminates involvement with the criminal justice system. Though 10 percent of people in recovery report employment problems, an impressive 83 percent are steadily employed, and more than one-quarter start their own businesses.

More impressive still, over three-quarters of people in recovery further their education or training. Levels of volunteer work more than double, and commitment to voting increases by 41 percent.

Addiction Treatment Can Make the Difference

People in recovery overwhelmingly report having received professional addiction treatment, and of these, 18 percent take prescribed medications such as methadone to assist with recovery from a substance use disorder. People in recovery also report high rates of participation in recovery groups including 12-step groups, and approximately 22 percent report participating in non-12-step support groups like Rational Recovery.

Recovery from substance use disorders is associated with dramatic improvement in every area of life, including better finances, better family life, more civic engagement, less public health and safety risk, and substantial increases in employment. Most importantly, life continues to get better as recovery continues.

Faces & Voices of Recovery is the organization that conducted the nationwide survey of people in recovery from substance abuse, and the results were strongly encouraging, showing that it is possible for people to turn their lives around after substance addiction and sustain recovery over the long term.

If you struggle with the disease of addiction, or if someone you love does, then you are far from alone. One key to having a life with good family relations and friendships, steady employment, and greater involvement in the community is successfully completing addiction treatment and continuing to pursue recovery once active addiction treatment is over. We encourage you to learn more about our admissions. There is no obligation, and we are happy to answer your questions because we know you deserve to have a life that is free from the heavy chains of addiction.

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.