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    What is Recovery From Addiction?

    So, what is recovery from addiction?  Is it simply discontinuing the use of drugs or alcohol?  Is it giving up just your drug of choice, but continuing to use other substances?  Are there other factors that should be considered in defining what recovery from addiction means for you?

    Recovery from addiction is a lifelong process of improving health and well-being while living independently. Many people suffering from addiction achieve sobriety.  However, recovery is more difficult.  It involves changing your outlook on life, your behavior, your identity, and in some cases your environment. Successful recovery is inspired by the hope that recovery is possible and faith that you will recover.  So, what is Recovery From Addiction?

    NIDA Definition of Recovery From Addiction

    According to the NIDA, Recovery from addiction is a process of change through which people improve their health and wellness, live self-directed lives, and strive to reach their full potential. Even people with severe and chronic substance use disorders can, with help, overcome their illness and regain health and social function. This is called remission. Being in recovery is when those positive changes and values become part of a voluntarily adopted lifestyle.

    While many people in recovery believe that abstinence from all substance use is a cardinal feature of a recovery lifestyle, others report that handling negative feelings without using substances and living a contributive life are more important parts of their recovery.

    Types of Recovery From Addiction Programs:

    • Recovery-oriented systems of care:

      These programs embrace a chronic care management model for severe substance use disorders, including longer-term, outpatient care; recovery housing; and recovery coaching and management checkups.

    • Recovery support services:

      These services refer to the collection of community services that can provide emotional and practical support for continued remission. Components include mutual aid groups (e.g., 12-step groups), recovery coaching, recovery housing, recovery management (checkups and telephone case monitoring), recovery community centers, and recovery-based education (high schools and colleges).

    • Social and recreational recovery infrastructures and social media: 

      These programs make it easier for people in recovery to enjoy activities and social interactions that do not involve alcohol or drugs (e.g., recovery-specific cafes and clubhouses, sports leagues, and creative arts programs).

    SAMHSA Definition of Recovery From Addiction

    The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA) defines recovery from addiction as:

    "A process of change through which individuals improve their health and wellness, live a self-directed life, and strive to reach their full potential."

    Four Dimensions That Support A Life of Recovery From Addiction

    Diminsions of supporting life in recovery from addiction

    Substance abuse is not an isolated problem – it impacts many aspects of life.  Patients often enter drug rehab with legal problems, housing issues, employment problems, or damaged family and social relationships.  SAMHSA also identified multiple factors that either support or become a barrier to life in Recovery.

    • Health: Making decisions that support physical and mental health and avoiding drugs, alcohol, or other substances of abuse.
    • Purpose: Living for something, whether it’s taking care of someone, giving back to the community, having a career, or striving to reach goals.
    • Community: Cultivating meaningful supportive relationships, characterized by friendship and love.
    • Home: Having a safe, stable, and stress-free place to live.

    The 10 Guiding Principles of Recovery From Addiction

    Most experts agree that recovery is not just managing symptoms, but is much more than that. It means living a life he or she is proud of and making progress toward life goals.  SAMHSA has created ten guiding principles of recovery:

    1. Recovery emerges from hope
    2. Recovery is person-driven
    3. Recovery occurs via many pathways
    4. Recovery is holistic
    5. Recovery is supported by peers and allies
    6. Recovery is supported through relationships and social networks
    7. Recovery is culturally based and influenced
    8. Recovery is supported by addressing trauma
    9. Recovery involves individual, family, and community strengths and responsibilities
    10. Recovery is based on respect

    Recovery emerges from hope

    The belief that recovery is real provides the essential and motivating message of a better future—that people can and do overcome the internal and external challenges, barriers, and obstacles that confront them. Hope is internalized and can be fostered by peers, families, providers, allies, and others. Hope is the catalyst of the recovery process.

    Recovery is person-driven

    Recovery is person-driven, relying upon self-determination and self-direction are the hallmarks of individual autonomy. As such, recovery is an individualized process.

    Recovery occurs via many pathways

    Recovery occurs via many pathways because of the unique needs, strengths, preferences, goals, culture, and backgrounds. The person-driven nature of recovery will naturally manifest into multiple pathways towards recovery. Those pathways could include clinical treatment, medications, faith-based approaches, peer support, family support, self-care, etc.

    Recovery is holistic

    Recovery is holistic and must encompass the whole person and his/her community.  Recovery involves addressing self-care, family, housing, employment, wellness, community, and social needs. 

    Recovery is supported by peers and allies

    Recovery is supported by peers and allies, including mutual support and mutual aid groups, friends, and family members. Rather than occurring in isolation, recovery occurs within a supportive community.

    Recovery is supported through relationship

    People who are invested and believe in a person’s ability to get better support recovery. Additionally, as an individual forms bonds with those who are invested in their recovery, they begin to move away from relationships that were potentially dangerous, unfulfilling, and unsupportive. 

    Recovery is culturally-based

    An individual’s culture will likely influence his or her pathway into recovery. As such, SAMHSA recommends that clinical services be “culturally grounded, attuned, sensitive, congruent, and competent, as well as personalized to meet each individual’s unique needs.”

    Recovery is supported by addressing trauma

    The history of many people in recovery will include trauma – it may be an acute trauma, chronic trauma, or complex trauma depending upon the type, duration, and frequency.  Recovery is supported when trauma is addressed.  Thus, those providing clinical services should be trauma-informed.  

    Recovery involves individual, family, and community.

    Focusing on individual and community strengths is a vital part of the recovery process. Individuals are responsible for their own recovery and must rely upon their strengths; families and supportive friends often have significant responsibilities as they work to support their loved ones, and communities have a responsibility to offer needed services that support a life in recovery.

    Recovery is based on respect

    Recovery is based on respect. Community, systems, and societal acceptance and appreciation for people affected by mental health and substance use problems – including protecting their rights and eliminating discrimination – are crucial in achieving recovery.

    Relationships in Addiction Recovery

    As several of these guiding principles involve relationships, it’s important to understand the value of these connections and the power of strong social support during the recovery process. Family and friends can become a sufferers' champions and provide the essential support needed during their journey and challenges.

    Addiction not only impacts the addict, but it also impacts the lives of everyone that loves the addict as well.  Families can often face adversity during the period of treatment and recovery. They need to be prepared with resiliency to overcome potential feelings of:

    Treatment programs aimed at those who have alcohol and drug addiction problems can have better outcomes if the abuser's family or close associates are also involved in the process.

    "Family therapy in substance abuse treatment can help by using the family's strengths and resources to find ways for the person who abuses alcohol or drugs to live without substances of abuse and to ameliorate the impact of chemical dependency on both the patient and the family, according to SAMHSA. "Family therapy can help families become aware of their own needs and aid in the goal of keeping substance abuse from moving from one generation to another."

    PUSH for Recovery's Therapeutic Approach

    PUSH for Recovery understands that drug and alcohol addiction treatment must address all four dimensions of health, home, purpose, and community through a holistic approach. Drug rehab therapy at PUSH for Recovery looks to address the body, mind, and spirit in order to promote happiness and functioning across every aspect of life.   We understand that just stopping drugs and alcohol is not enough.  For many, Spirituality is an important aspect of life, and we incorporated spirituality and a faith-based approach into evidence-based treatments for addiction.  At Port 45 Recovery, we use a holistic approach that goes beyond treating the substance abuse itself.  Each individual will have a personalized plan created just for him or her.  Contact us for today more information on our individualized addiction treatment.


    Donate to help the Life Recovery Society provide a safe, sober, supportive, and flexible way for individuals to earn an income while in treatment.  Life Recovery Society also plans to add a men's and women's sober living home in the Hilltop Community.