What Does Recovery From Addiction Truly Mean?

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Addiction is a progressive disease, manifested in a variety of ways, and nearly every addict believes at the start that they can stop using drugs on their own. Like any other chronic illness such as diabetes or asthma, the conditions of addiction worsen over time and become more difficult to manage without the right type of care. While they may be fleetingly aware of the impacts that their drug abuse has on their health, relationships, finances, or ability to enjoy life, recovery hopes are lost with each attempt to quit.

For those who seek addiction treatment services, full recovery is an achievable goal, but, partial recovery is a more realistic one. The message from SAMHSA is clear; “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.” So, what does recovery from addiction truly mean?

Why Treatment is Important to Recovery

Recovery means many different things to addicts who may be seeking help to overcome a resulting crisis or simply, because they are tired of being controlled by a drug. According to the Institute of Medicine (US),”Key problems in addiction are: how to prevent the onset of compulsive drug use and how to prevent relapse and the craving that leads to relapse.” Many addicts are poly-substance and/or intravenous users who increase their risks of relapse, overdose, and health complications. Anxiety, depressive, and suicidal thinking is often reported with nearly half of all addicts entering treatment suffering some sort of mental health disorder.

Restoring what has been lost in an addict’s physical, psychological, and emotional wellbeing can seem a long way off when these individuals suffer higher dysfunctions in their relationships, at home, work, school, and in their communities than most people. Counseling, behavioral therapies, medical, psychiatric, peer, and community support services are common elements of treatment that can help them get through the detox and rehabilitation phases while giving them some strategic tools to use afterwards, but, what happens, afterwards, is where recovery gains the most recognition.

Principles of Recovery from Addiction

Focusing on the four major recovery dimensions of health, home, purpose, and community, the SAMHSA, defines recovery 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.” Expanding on this definition the SAMHSA has developed a set of guiding principles for recovery including:

  • Recovery emerges from hope
  • Recovery is person-driven
  • Recovery occurs via many pathways
  • Recovery is holistic
  • Recovery is supported by peers and allies
  • Recovery is supported through relationship and social networks
  • Recovery is culturally-based and influenced
  • Recovery is supported by addressing trauma
  • Recovery involves individual, family, and community strengths and responsibility
  • Recovery is based on respect