Relapse Rate by Time: Alcohol

Most people undergo several cycles of the stages of change process before achieving their ultimate change goals. It may take an average of 5-7 serious attempts. The figure depicts relapse rates by time. The horizontal axis represents 0-12 months, and the vertical axis represents the percent of abstainers from 0 to 100%. The following is a visual approximation: The percentage of those who are able to maintain abstinence drops from 100% to 70% within the first month. From the end of month one to month three a small leveling out begins to occur and reflects abstinence rates going from 70% to 40%. Month three to around month six shows that abstinence rates begin to average out and hover around 40%. However, there is some continued decline around month six through twelve and reflects an abstinence rate drop to around 38%.

[Source: Prochaska, J. O., DiClemente, C. C., Norcross, J. C. (1992). In search of how people change. Applications to addictive behaviors. American Psychologist, 47, 1102-1114.]