- Around two million Americans are addicted to opioids. Yet many more have overcome their opioid problems. A large national population study found that almost all of those who once met criteria for prescription opioid-use disorder achieved remission during their lifetimes — and half of those recovered within five years. Although heroin and street fentanyl are more dangerous, most of those who avoid fatal overdoses recover from addiction.
To improve the odds, we need to recognize and champion recovery — and the wide variety of forms it can take. In media and pop culture, when recovering people are seen at all, one type usually appears: someone who goes to rehab and then abstains from all drugs by relying on 12-step programs like Narcotics Anonymous.
In fact, other recovery journeys are more common. For example, nearly half of those with prescription opioid addiction are able to recover without formal treatment or self-help participation.