What does recovery mean? Is recovery cutting back on drugs and alcohol? Is recovery the complete abstinence of daily substance use? Does recovery refer only to elicit or illegal drug use, or does recovery apply to all mind-altering substances including prescription medications? Is recovery different from abstinence? Does recovery include medically assisted treatment (MAT)? Does recovery always have a spiritual component? Or is recovery a state of mind, and if so, what state of mind? These are all great questions.
Recovery. What it Means.
According to the Betty Ford Institute, “Recovery may be the best word to summarize all the positive benefits to physical, mental, and social health that can happen when alcohol- and other drug-dependent individuals get the help they need … a voluntarily maintained lifestyle characterized by sobriety, personal health, and citizenship.”
To me, recovery is being able to live life on life’s terms with internal peace and happiness. Recovery is having the choice to live without illicit substances or substances that are harm-inducing. It also includes the freedom of choice to take prescription medication in partnership with your doctor that you both agree is beneficial to your treatment. Recovery is individual and autonomous and may include spirituality, medication assisted treatment (MAT), prescription medications, and/or a state of mind that offers no room for harmful substance use.
For most, recovery cannot be achieved alone. Through education, group counseling, individual counseling, fellowship, twelve-step or other support groups, sober living environments (SLE’s), relapse prevention, detox, and MAT, those who suffer from addiction can find relief and hope. The path to recovery is individual and often takes the shape of a holistic approach based on prior trauma, dual diagnosis of mental health disorders, multicultural factors, and external support. Ultimately, the goal is one of optimism and hope for recovery and a fulfilling life as defined by the client. By considering the lived experiences, values, goals, and culture of the whole person, recovery can include an array of possibilities including meditation, spirituality, religion, physical wellness, and art, to name a few.
Recovery is an opportunity for a different life, a healthy life, a happy life. It is an opportunity for fellowship, friendship, family relationships, and work life on more meaningful levels. It includes a life of endless possibilities.
What is recovery? A working definition from the Betty Ford Institute. (2007). Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 33(3), 221–228. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jsat.2007.06.001