What percentage of alcoholics make it into recovery?

by Sharon

I am wondering what percentage of active alcoholics make it into recovery before they die?

My significant other is 67, drinks an unknown amount of alcohol "normally" and is currently on a drinking binge that has lasted more than a month so far. He is isolating at home (we do not live together), not working, and states that he is "depressed." He has had many binges in the past, although this is the first time I have witnessed one. His denial appears to be complete and air-tight.

I attend Al-Anon and am trying to educate myself about alcoholism.


A survey done by the Laboratory of Biometry and Epidemiology states that roughly one-third (35.9%) of US adult alcoholics achieve full recovery. They define full recovery as neither showing symptoms of alcohol dependence or abuse. This does not necessarily mean that they abstain from alcohol. Half of those recovered are able to handle alcohol responsibly without signs of dependence or abuse. The study does not state how they achieved full recovery. For example, they may have quit on their own, entered a recovery program, or used AA.

Remember that recovery and abstinence are often related but represent two different concepts. Abstinence is the absence of alcohol consumption. Recovery is no longer struggling with alcohol dependence or abuse. When someone is recovered, they are no longer addicted, no longer a slave to alcohol. This recovery usually involves abstinence, but not always. Abstinence does not mean someone is recovered. Someone can abstain from alcohol for a long time but quickly resume their old habits as if no time has passed.

It is good that you’re attending Al-Anon. I’m sure the support and knowledge will greatly increase your ability to deal with your significant other's addiction. If his denial is complete and air-tight, you will need to learn how to take care of you. You cannot change him or force him into recovery. You can encourage and support him, but the choice for recovery has to be his. He has to take ownership of his addiction and seek help.

If you are not married, you may want to evaluate his readiness for a serious relationship. It sounds like he has a lot to work through before he can make a firm commitment to you. I highly recommend that he attends an AA meeting if he has not already done so.

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