Bill White on addiction and treatment careers:
The odds of stable recovery increase with the accumulation of years of substance dependence. Sustainable recovery is often preceded by years of cycling in and out of sobriety experiments until multiple interventions generate enough cumulative recovery capital to tip the scales to stable recovery maintenance. The majority of persons who recover from severe and persistent substance dependence do so after multiple treatment episodes occurring over a span of years. However, there is a sizable population of people with three or more treatment admissions who do not improve following additional admissions to treatment as currently designed and delivered. In a long-term follow-up of those entering treatment in Chicago, the median period from first use to first year of achieved abstinence was 27 years, and the median time from first treatment admission to first year of abstinence spanned three to four treatment episodes over the average course of nine years.