What is “recovery”? You may hear the term often, yet it’s difficult to define. Many former problem drinkers and other substance users who are now trying to pursue an improved way of living say that they are “in recovery.” Yet with its frequent use, we have no agreed-upon definition of the term recovery.
Some questions in discovering the definition include the following:
- Can someone be “in recovery” if they are still drinking or using?
- Is recovery more than just being clean and sober?
- How is that defined?
The Betty Ford Institute defines recovery from substance dependence as “a voluntarily maintained lifestyle characterized by sobriety, personal health, and citizenship.” On the other hand, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) working definition does not include abstinence, and calls recovery, “a process of change through which individuals improve their health and wellness, live a self-directed life, and strive to reach their full potential.”
With varying degrees of a definition already in place, a project team at the Alcohol Research Group aims to answer the question “What is recovery?”
How? By asking those who consider themselves to be a part of the recovery community.
The team is developing a definition of recovery that comes from the real experts: those in recovery. But, it needs help from people who used to have a problem with alcohol or drugs — an experience some call being in recovery, while others may refer to themselves as “recovered” or “used to have a drinking/drug problem, but not anymore.”
Many people do not really know what recovery represents. This includes not only somebody’s friends and family, but also employers and other decision makers such as judges, doctors and policy makers.
The What is Recovery? project results will provide a framework for educating the public and policymakers about what can realistically be expected when former drinkers and drug users get into recovery.
A hopeful side effect of the project, is to also lesson stigma surrounding addiction. Unlike those in recovery from other chronic disorders, such as cancer, many people in recovery — including people that may be decision-making judges and policy makers—hide their recovery statuses for fear of stigmatization at work or from society in general. Their families may be ashamed too.
A goal of the project is to develop a way of measuring recovery that illustrates the constructive personal and social ways of being that are associated with recovery.
The team is trying to reach 12,000 people from all walks of life and paths to recovery.
People in recovery know what recovery is, but not everyone else does. The Alcohol Research Group hopes to define recovery from the perspective of people living it. If you are in recovery, or used to have a problem with alcohol or drugs, then you know what recovery is. Your experiences can provide valuable information to help people with similar problems. How do you define recovery?
To read more about the project, and for a link to the on-line survey, go to:
The survey takes between 12 to 20 minutes to complete, and is anonymous.