chapter  5
41 Pages

Staying off

A common feature of the biography of most drug addicts is that their careers are likely to be peppered with numerous attempts to escape from their addiction. Periods of abstinence can last from a few days to a few years but, by definition, the great majority of these end in failure. A number of estimates suggest that rates of relapse among treated populations can be as high as 90 per cent (Smart 1994, Christo 1998). Clearly, then, the key to successful recovery from drug addiction lies not simply in the addict's ability to stop taking drugs; of at least equal importance is his or her ability to stay off. Accordingly, a crucial question, which has to be addressed, is: what are the factors and circumstances which assist or impede recovering addicts in their attempts to maintain abstinence and avoid becoming re-addicted?