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Research Center

Rate of Relapse for Alcoholics

08/03/2004

Question:

What is the relapse rate (alcoholism) when there has been 10 or more years of sobriety.

Answer:

There is little published research in this area. Some research shows that if a person has been sober for 2 years, they have a 90% chance of staying sober for 5 years. One study done in 1990 stated that 91% of those who became a sponsor in AA reported 10 years of sobriety.

Certainly the relapse rate will differ based on whether or not the person is active in some sort of treatment program or self-help program.

So it seems likely that the percentage of relapse after 10 years of sobriety is somewhere in the range of 5 ot 10 percent. However, there are few long-term studies of this question.

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Response by:

Christina M Delos Reyes, MD Christina M Delos Reyes, MD
Assistant Professor of Psychiatry
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University