What Is Recovery?
The federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has defined “recovery” as a process of change through which individuals improve their health and wellness, live self-directed lives, and strive to reach their full potential.
Recovery is built on access to evidence-based clinical treatment and recovery-support services for all populations. In addition, SAMHSA has identified four major dimensions that support a life in recovery:
- Health – overcoming or managing one’s disease(s) or symptoms (e.g., abstaining from use of alcohol, illicit drugs, and non-prescribed medications) and, for everyone in recovery, making informed, healthy choices that support physical and emotional well-being
- Home – having a stable and safe place to live
- Purpose – conducting meaningful daily activities, such as a job, school volunteerism, family caretaking, or creative endeavors, and the independence, income, and resources to participate in society
- Community – having relationships and social networks that provide support, friendship, love, and hope
Finally, SAMHSA has identified the following Guiding Principles of Recovery:
- There are many pathways to recovery.
- Recovery is self-directed and empowering.
- Recovery involves a personal recognition of the need for change and transformation.
- Recovery is holistic.
- Recovery has cultural dimensions.
- Recovery exists on a continuum of improved health and wellness.
- Recovery is supported by peers and allies.
- Recovery emerges from hope and gratitude.
- Recovery involves a process of healing and self-redefinition.
- Recovery involves addressing discrimination and transcending shame and stigma.
- Recovery involves (re)joining and (re)building a life in the community.
- Recovery is a reality. It can, will, and does happen.