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America's Recovery Community Is Now 23 Million Strong

Ten percent of respondents to a major survey say they've overcome problems with drugs and alcohol.

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Me too! Thinkstock

By Rebecca Gray

03/06/12

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A new survey suggests that the US recovery community is even bigger than previously believed. An amazing 10% of adults aged 18 and older answered yes to the question, "Did you once have a problem with drugs or alcohol, but no longer do?" That translates to some 23.5 million adults living in the US today who battled addiction at some point and came out on the other side. The study—released today by the Partnership at Drugfree.org and the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS)—could make a valuable contribution to research into America's biggest public health crisis. It reveals some interesting demographic tidbits: more recovering adults fall into the 35-44 age group than any other, while the male/female breakdown has 12% of men reporting that they're in recovery, compared to 7% of women. Meanwhile the Midwest, sometimes dubbed America's "Binge Belt," has a higher proportion of people in recovery (14%) than any other region. Amid frequent pessimism over the scale of addiction-related problems in the US, the news that so many Americans have already found recovery is highly encouraging. "This research marks a vitally important step for those who are struggling with addiction by offering clear evidence to support what many know experientially," says New York State OASAS Commissioner Arlene Gonzalez-Sanchez. "Millions of Americans have found a path to recovery."

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