How Many Alcoholics Stay Sober After Rehab?

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How Many Alcoholics Stay Sober After Rehab?

In the UK, there are about 7.5 million alcohol users. And research indicates approximately two-thirds of alcoholics stay sober after rehab in their first year. It means a third tend to revert to alcoholism. [1]

Also, according to Alcoholics Anonymous, the success of alcoholism recovery rate is at 50%, with only 25% remaining sober after relapses. [2] 

Rehabilitation for alcohol addiction and other addictive substances has proven a complex process. Even though there’s a possibility of staying sober after treatment, relapse rates are still very high.

And in fact, the success rate for addiction rehabilitation is not the only problem.

Even if an alcoholic does achieve staying sober for a long term, there are the potential adverse effects of alcohol on their health, such as cognitive impairment, liver damage, and certain cancers according to Alcoholics Anonymous. 

As a result, it is essential to understand alcoholism, be aware of the risks associated with alcohol, and prepare an individualized plan to help them in their recovery process, apart from rehab.  

Understanding Alcohol Abuse and Rehab 

Alcoholism affects all and sundry; both children and the elderly are suffering from it. 

While about 80% of college students engage in drinking, it's estimated that 50% engage in binge drinking, which means taking a lot of alcohol in little time. [3] 

Most of them confess to engaging in drug use and abuse of alcohol even before they were admitted to college. Although these statistics are perverse in children, the frequency is even worse in adults.  

It’s approximately 85.6% of adults drink alcohol, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH). The problem now is that it can lead to several negative consequences. [4] 

It can lead to anxiety, depression, addiction, and more. Sadly, parents often don’t know how to talk with their children about these issues. 

So, helping someone, especially children, overcome an addiction to alcohol can be an overwhelming task.

According to Recovery Research Institute on alcoholism, it can take an alcoholic two, three, even four tries before they finally come out of addiction.  

The first one is often the hardest. Experts say that the first time an alcoholic puts their sobriety at risk by drinking can take years off their life.

The first time they drink again after completing alcohol rehab, the health consequences can be life-threatening.  

However, the good news is that a large majority of people who are alcohol dependent, even those who cannot give it up, at some point quit alcoholism after undergoing treatment programmes. 

Related article: Building a sober support network after alcohol rehab

Alcoholism and Drug dependence 

Alcoholism is characterised by the consumption of more alcohol than what is considered socially acceptable and requires a long-term recovery. 

Drug dependence is a more severe form of alcoholism, characterized by physical withdrawal symptoms when alcohol is not consumed. 

People use many different types of drugs to compensate for feeling bad about themselves or for getting high, but alcohol is the most common.

Remember, anyone can become an alcoholic, but there are several factors for this disorder: genetics, environment, stress, depression, and age.

Alcohol use Disorder 

Alcohol use disorder (AUD)  is a medical issue where one displays reduced ability to stop or control alcohol use even when there's severe damage to social life, work, and health in general. 

Most people would refer to it as alcohol abuse, alcohol dependence, and the standard term is, alcoholism. 

Therefore, alcohol use disorder is a brain ailment and can either be mild or severe. Because when there's a continuous intake of alcohol, the brain has lifelong changes that augment the disorder making the addicts relapse.  

But the beauty of it all is that even though the damage may be grave, there are professional treatment options.

Doctors provide medical advice such as behavioural therapies, mutual support groups, and medications to help AUD patients succeed in this drug addiction. 

The Consequences and Impact of Alcohol Abuse and Addiction 

Alcohol addiction has risks that vary with individuals, the extent of alcohol use, and the person's physical condition. 

Some consequences and impacts are short-term, while others are long-term. 

Short term risks are as follows: 

  • Sleepiness 
  • Nausea 
  • Indistinct speech 
  • Stomach 
  • Distress  
  • Impaired judgment 
  • Headache  
  • Poor vision and hearing 
  • Memory lapses 
  • Complications in breathing 

And when you continue with the drinking binge, there are long-term risks.  

Long term risks are: 

  • Heart-related diseases such as heart attack, high blood pressure, etc. 
  • Liver cirrhosis 
  • Mouth and throat cancer 
  • Ulcers 
  • Nerve damage 
  • Brain damage 
  • Sexual issues like poor sexual drive 
  • Stomach inflammation called gastritis 

Alcoholism is a mental health condition, and it requires professional help. Don't deny your problems. Seek help from a certified addiction professional, have long term sobriety, and learn to lead a normal life. 

And as much as alcoholics relapse after rehab, some have managed not to. So, how do you manage to stay sober after rehab? Through alcohol treatment?  

Here are a few tips: 

Alcohol Addiction Treatment 

The reality of alcohol abuse is not something that you can ignore. Alcohol is the most used drug globally. It is a common substance abuse. Unfortunately, it doesn't take long for someone to become addicted to alcohol.  

Alcoholics Anonymous define alcoholism as "a chronic, often fatal disease manifested by compulsive drinking of alcoholic beverages followed by periods of abstinence or drinking in which hangovers are involved." 

This means alcoholism affects more than the individual, and that’s why addiction treatment is paramount.  

Well, what’s involved in addiction treatment? Since alcoholism is a debilitating and sometimes fatal disease, you can overcome it by seeking help from a treatment program.

Treatments for alcoholism vary, but the most effective therapies usually focus on a holistic approach of emotional and social healing, individual addiction counselling, and a higher quality of life.  

As discussed, there are several treatment programs in specific treatment centres to aid alcoholism addiction. 

Alcohol Rehab 

One of the most challenging problems people face in life is how to deal with an addiction to alcohol, but there is a way to fix the problem and have a long-term sobriety.  

Alcohol rehab is the best way to treat and heal from an addiction to alcohol, and it is essential to remember that treatment and healing is lifelong process.

People who consider alcohol rehab should investigate all of the options available, and they should also think about how they will integrate into society and their new, sober life. 

They should also think about what they would do if relapse occurred after completing treatment. 

For that reason, alcohol rehab is when an individual seeks help to stop their substance use.  


What are the benefits of alcohol rehab?

One of the benefits is stopping substance use and resolving withdrawal symptoms. Also, the behaviour that caused substance use can be addressed.  

The other benefits can be physical and psychological. 

The physical benefits include improvements in mental and physical health, decreased liver and heart disease risks, and less chance of more addiction.  

The psychological benefits of attending alcohol rehab include an improved self-image, increased self-esteem, and more growth opportunities.

Psychiatrists say that those who attend alcohol rehab also experience better relationship quality. Familial relationships typically improve as well as those between spouses. 

There are various treatments involved in alcohol rehab. Examples of treatments in alcohol rehab are counselling, therapy, medications, and alcohol detox. 


Sometimes you don't need to go to an alcohol rehab to treat alcoholism. There are other outpatient treatment centres to address alcoholism. 

The National Institute of Health recommends that those diagnosed with alcoholism enter a treatment program. Medications play a significant role in substance use disorder.

Therefore, there are several medications that the national institute recommends, medicines used to stop addict relapse by decreasing their drinking.

To name them, we have naltrexone, an oral injectable, nalmefene, acamprosate, and disulfiram. 

These medications aren’t addictive and can be combined with the other two treatments; behavioural treatments and mutual support groups or used alone.  

Therapy/Behavioural treatments 

No one treatment is suitable for all, and it can be challenging to find the best treatment for a particular individual. One form of treatment is behavioural treatment. So, what is the behavioural treatment?  

Behavioural treatment is counselling or therapy by a specific treatment provider who is a licensed therapist to help in alcoholism recovery. 

Besides, if a person is still in the early stages of alcohol use, this is the perfect strategy to help them develop skills and tools to overcome cravings and triggers for drinking. 

Behavioural treatments include motivational interviewing and cognitive-behavioural therapy.  Motivational interviewing involves a counsellor, usually a psychologist, and a patient.

The counsellor will help the patient identify their motivation for drinking and help them formulate an action plan for stopping their addiction to alcohol.  

Cognitive-behavioural treatment is a program that helps the patient learn how to modify the way they think about alcohol, which will help them become less dependent on it.  

Alcohol Detox 

Detoxing alcohol might seem daunting, but you can do it. The best way to detox from alcohol is at a clinic. These clinics will provide you with a safe and medically monitored process of weaning off alcohol.

You will be monitored and observed the whole time and protected from harming yourself.  

Detoxing at home can be very dangerous, and you risk harming your body and causing addiction. There are other ways to detox from alcohol, such as using an herbal detox or a nutritional detox. 

These detoxes would not be as thorough as the serum detox at a clinic, but they could be helpful for someone on a budget who does not want to pay for complete medical care. 

How Many Alcoholics Stay Sober After Rehab? 

As mentioned, the relapse rate assessed by Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is 25%, meaning there’s a 75% chance of stopping alcohol addiction after rehab. 

It is estimated that about 25% that is only a quarter, of people with a drinking problem struggle with addiction. For some people, the addiction is something they can overcome on their own after a few attempts.

For others, addiction is a more serious issue and will require professional help in or through support group meetings with group therapy to overcome. 

For that reason, the pathway to recovery from alcoholism is so rough but equally common. Every day, thousands of recovering alcoholics leave rehab and start to rebuild their lives.

However, the number of alcoholics that quit drinking and remain sober after rehabilitation varies as the decision to continue drinking or stop drinking is a personal choice. 

How to Stay Sober after Rehabilitation 

After a relapse, it can be difficult for a recovering alcoholic to remain sober after rehabilitation, but it is possible. First of all, it is difficult to stay away from the toxic people that may tempt you to relapse. 

You also may feel like your failures are more evident than ever. If this is the case, remember that you are not alone, and that millions of people out there are struggling like you.  

It's okay if they're not following the same path as you. Just be sure that you're following your own.

Stay away from places where you know there will be a temptation and do things that will keep your mind occupied when you feel the urge to use.

You will find that it'll become easier to avoid being in a place where drugs and alcohol are tempting. 

Some other tips to help avoid relapse are: 

Going to meetings or local support groups like 12-step groups by Alcoholics Anonymous. You can as well check at national institute on alcohol for treatment providers listed. 

Keeping a sober support network. 

Spending time with sober friends who support sobriety is an excellent way to remain sober because it keeps you from associating with people who are drinking and engaging in substance abuse. You can even move to their sober living houses to avoid relapsing. 

Develop a life plan recovery journey with your therapist or counsellor in an institute on alcohol abuse. And as a result, the recovering alcoholics can work on their emotions and change their thinking.

The process of recovering requires the will and a robust support system, and above all a good treatment facility.  

Also, the specific type of rehab programme plays a significant role in how alcoholics quit alcohol abuse and alcoholism to remain sober.

So, pursue the right rehab program for the changes you need; besides, it is gratifying and rewarding! 

Bottom Line 

The world of addiction is brutal. Addiction, whether it is alcohol or another substance, is something too easy to succumb to.

Those who have fallen prey to alcoholism relapse are often tired, spiritually bankrupt, and have little to give.

While it can be challenging to escape addiction, treatment options and a recovery process with a support group can help. 

If you've been struggling with alcoholism, it might be time to get help. You deserve to feel better! 

Alcoholism addiction treatment, one with professional treatment advice, is an excellent option for struggling with addiction. Furthermore, the alcoholism recovery rate after rehab is even promising.

And that's why we have two-thirds of people maintaining sobriety after rehab. 

You can visit the numerous treatment providers. To let you know, there are specific treatment providers with a specialty in alcoholism. 

So whether you’re from rehab and still have drinking problems, most have trustworthy health information to help you maintain sobriety. They have a specific treatment centre listing too to choose what fits. 

The treatment provider has an online presence, a medical provider, recovery tools, and a paid advertisers online chat. There's a website's main phone number, so you can reach them anytime and get feedback!  

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About the author

Laura Morris

Laura Morris is an experienced clinical practitioner and CQC Registered Manager with over twenty years experience, over ten of which have been as an Independent Nurse Prescriber.

She has held a number of senior leadership roles in the substance use and mental health sector in the NHS, the prison service and in leading social enterprises in the field.

Last Updated: January 5, 2024