What is the relapse rate for opiate addiction?

Christine graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing, and from the outside she seemed to be the perfect employee. She would take on extra shifts, volunteer to watch patients when other nurses needed a break and volunteered to be on the on code teams.

Christine said, “My ex-husband was a registered nurse who at times was working right beside me and had no clue that I was diverting and using.”

She hid her addiction well at the beginning, while all of her volunteering and helping her fellow nurses made Christine look like a team player, in reality it was a part of her ruse to have access to more narcotics.

Her first interaction with any substance was when she stole some of her parents beer and became intoxicated, “I remember it feeling really good … I didn’t get sick so I thought I was good at it,” Christine said, she was 10 years-old.

At 14 she began smoking Marijuana, by 18 she was smoking every day.

“My disease progressed significantly during my nursing career,” she said “It was awful to deal with on a day to day basis.”

Christine was a registry nurse, which means she moved from hospital to hospital. Being in this position gave her the perfect opportunity procure narcotics relatively undetected.

One hospital she was working at found narcotics in the bathroom, “they immediately took me to get a urinalysis to see if I was loaded, which I was.”

After being caught with drugs in her system, Christine knew that the Nursing Board in that state was on to what she was doing.

“I did what was what every great addict does, a geographical relocation to another state. I thought I could escape me, but where I went, there I was.”

Three weeks into her new nursing job in a new state, Christine was again caught being impaired on the job.

“After losing my nursing license I moved to street drugs, which meant dealing with a lot of street people.”

Christine says one of the crazies things that she experienced was driving down the I-10 freeway with three Crips in her car “(They were all) packing, caring large amounts of cocaine, high on PCP and driving 33 miles an hour.”

Her ex-husband was the first one to suggest the she go to a 12-step meeting. Christine’s first meeting was not only very emotional, but eye opening as well.

“I walked into my first 12-step meeting, sat in the back of the room and when they started the readings, I lost it.” She said “I finally figured out what I was and who I was.”

Christine said that she was extremely grateful to find out that she wasn’t just a bad person with a moral deficiency, she had a disease.

“On the other hand I was like ‘Oh shit, I’m an addict’ the dichotomy … was alarming, but there was hope,” she said.

Christine was set to go into a professional program that had random drug tests and group meetings. However, Christine didn’t surrender herself she wasn’t ready to make that commitment just yet.

“When I got clean in 2009, it really had to be me. It was my decision, no one forced me to.”

When she decided to get treatment she equated her success to it being her own choice. When she got clean her life improved dramatically.

From working through her addiction she gained many things, “I got self-acceptance, I love myself today with all of my assets and my defects.”

When she was two and a half years clean, at the age of 41, Christina got pregnant. She now has a healthy 3 year-old girl, and is engaged to another recovering addict who is also 6 years clean.

After she had been clean for five years Christine was able to get her medical license back. She is now on contract with the Arizona State Board of Nursing that requires her to be monitored, “that’s just a part of cleaning up my past, and I accept that,” Christine said.

She’s has a strong support group of friends and members of her fellowship that she can call on at any time.

Her biggest suggestion for others who are addicted to drugs or alcohol is simple “just keep coming back, some people don’t get it the first time … You never know when that miracle is going to happen.”

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12 comments
  1. Interesting!!! a relapse is a thing but it is more true in addiction I guess. That said, the relapse rate of opiate addicts must be known or at least considered. That way if an addiction relapses God forbid we will be better equipped to handle it.

  2. The relapse rate for heroin addicts can be high. it will be better to have a strong support group of friends and members to fellowship with and maybe, people they can call on at any time.

  3. The story of relapse rate for opiate addiction are so common. Relocating doesn’t make you a different person or makes you stop your addictions, all you need doing is get fact to get corrected from experts in addiction correction.

  4. A story that can give encouragement to people having the same problem in their life. Heroin relapse rates must be properly checked because if not, this may cause some serious problems in the future.

  5. Well done Christine, you made a very brave and right decision when taking actions and doing the necessary to clean your system and to recover your life.

  6. I bet there´s a high opiate relapse rate, but I´m glad you were able to keep yourself clean and now you can have a kid and fiance to love and share your life with.

  7. I believe the relapse rate for heroin addicts is getting low since help is getting to them now. But if possible leaving heroin totally is better

  8. Great comeback for Christine. I’m so happy she got to hold onto her medical license and serve as a good role model for other users. The fact that she found a partner with similar background is really moving as well. I think when you look at the relapse rate for heroin addicts or those struggling with other substances you realize you might not be able to kick the habit on the first try, but you are definitely capable of recovery once it is set in motion. I’m glad Christine could shed some light on this and teach a valuable lesson for those with the same illness.

  9. This heroin relapse rates is high and need attention fast. Anyone facing addiction of any type, you heal not just once but gradually because the problem didn’t get there one day.

  10. Even though there are cases of people eventually recovering from opiate addiction, the relapse rate for opiate addiction still remains considerably high, across the world. As Christine has mentioned, it’s an ongoing process; it’s one thing to want to get off the drugs, and another to stay clean long after rehab.

    My father (formerly a doctor) has dealt with such cases before. The road ahead isn’t easy, and ANYONE is susceptible to the siren call of drugs. A few cases in point even involved those who were quite religious, so preventing yourself from taking that very first heroin (or other drug) hit is key to ensuring that you experience a whole lot less heartbreak in life.

    It takes a lot of willpower and courage. Whether you succumb to it or not, it’s a challenge, either way.

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