Addiction: On The Wagon

Alcoholism may not necessarily be a life-long disease. In fact, a myriad of scenarios can affect an individual's recovery.

By Willow Lawson, published on May 1, 2005 - last reviewed on June 9, 2016

Once an alcoholic, forever an alcoholic, right?

Not according to a 2005 government study, which found that 40 percent of people with alcohol dependence were in full recovery a year after tackling their addiction. Roughly 20 percent of problem drinkers abstained from alcohol completely, but about the same number reported that they drank occasionally without a relapse. The study appeared in the journal Addiction.

Still, half of the alcoholics in the survey were struggling over the long term—25 percent were still dependent and another quarter were only partially in remission.

Not surprisingly, life circumstances were linked to recovery. Women and older adults were most likely to beat the addiction through abstinence. People who were cohabiting or married, or who had a family history of alcoholism, were more likely to report a non-abstinent recovery.