What Is Recovery? A Simple Guide to the Healing Process
At any time, more than 23 million people in the United States struggle with an alcohol or substance use disorder. Despite the availability of treatment, there remains a significant gap between the number of people who need treatment and those who actually receive it. In fact, only about 2.5 million people ever receive treatment at a specialized facility for their addiction.
Alcohol and drugs can wreak havoc on your life and, as many people in the recovery process will attest, recovering from addiction is a difficult journey. So, what is recovery? How does recovery begin and what challenges must be overcome to achieve it? If you or someone you love is currently in or thinking about recovery, learn what recovery is about and what you can expect from the journey.
Recovery: A Definition
The path to recovery looks different for everyone, but the ultimate goal of recovery is the same. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (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.” The key takeaway from this definition is that recovery, though largely thought of as abstinence from alcohol and substances, is much more. Addiction recovery is about putting back together the pieces of your life and realizing your potential.
Principles of Recovery
Now that addiction recovery has been defined, it’s important to know that recovery is multi-faceted. There are many principles that contribute to a successful recovery process. Learn about the basic truths of addiction recovery to gain a better understanding of why the process is different for everyone.
Recovery Requires Hope
In order to be successful in recovery, you must first have hope that recovery is possible. Considered the catalyst to recovery, hope is fostered through strong support networks and motivates individuals to overcome internal and external obstacles that contributed to the development of addiction.
Recovery is Self-Directed
Recovery is the pathway to achieving your life’s goals and those goals can only be created by you. Self-direction in recovery means you’re in control of your support system, participation in services, and making choices that get you closer to your recovery goals.
Recovery is Unique
Each person in recovery has a unique background, strengths, needs, desires and preferences, which is why the recovery process looks different for everyone. Whether you’re only thinking about recovery or have already started the process, it’s important not to compare your journey to others because every path is unique.
Recovery Encompasses the Whole Person
It’s not treatment alone, sobriety alone or meetings alone that define recovery; it is every aspect of an individual’s life. Recovery plans are developed to be holistic because life is comprised of various physical, mental, spiritual, social and vocational elements. A productive recovery process includes involvement in each of these areas.
Recovery Requires Support
Support can come in many forms, such as family, friends, counselors, church or peer groups. Without support, it’s easier to experience roadblocks to recovery as you only have yourself to rely on to make healthy choices and maintain sobriety. Sharing experiences, ideas and advice with others strengthens your ability to tackle obstacles and achieve goals.
Recovery is Influenced by Culture
Culture is defined as set of beliefs, customs and attitudes shared by a group of people that differentiates them from other groups. Interwoven into family, circles of friends, colleagues, and faith based groups, culture is the fabric of society. A good recovery plan acknowledges that culture plays a role in decision making and leans on culture to establish healthy support systems.
Recovery and Co-Occurring Disorders
Because the recovery process must be holistic, addressing co-occurring disorders during recovery is an important part of reaching your goals. Nearly 8 million people who struggle with addiction also experience mental health problems and physical conditions that can present barriers to the recovery process if not properly addressed. A comprehensive recovery plan will include integrated treatment options, such as counseling and medical care, designed to target the medical and psychological needs of individuals in recovery. In this way, people in recovery receive the support needed to maintain sobriety and live a full life.
The Role of Trauma in Recovery
Across cultures, languages and socioeconomic statuses, trauma is present in some form for the majority of Americans. Trauma may include physical, sexual or emotional abuse, exposure to combat or natural disasters, or a history of domestic violence. As one of the leading drivers of self-harm and substance use, trauma can sabotage the recovery process if not appropriately addressed. Regardless of your personal trauma history, it’s essential that you work with a trained professional to address triggers and symptoms that may exacerbate urges to use alcohol or drugs. Refusing to deal with past trauma will only lead to setbacks in your recovery plan and keep you from achieving the goals you’ve established.
Does Recovery Fail?
Addiction recovery is not a pass or fail exam, it’s a process. Like any process, it can experience roadblocks or setbacks that can be overcome. Due to the chronic nature of addiction, many people in recovery experience a relapse at some point. Statistically, 40-60% of individuals in addiction recovery will relapse, but this number is comparable to relapse rates seen in individuals with other chronic diseases, such as hypertension, diabetes and asthma. If you or someone you love has relapsed, it’s important not to feel ashamed, depressed or get discouraged about the recovery process because you can and will get back on track.
Getting back on the path to recovery isn’t just about regaining sobriety; it’s also about self-discovery and determination. What triggered your relapse and how can those triggers be avoided or managed? What is your current support system like and do you need to make any changes? What are things like at home or work? Are you experiencing any medical problems that contributed to relapse? Work with your treatment team to identify the factors leading to relapse and establish a plan to prevent future occurrences.
Start Your Journey to Recovery Today
The path to recovery is different for everyone, but help is available now to get started. If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction and wants to learn more about recovery options, call TTC Care today for a confidential consultation at [phone].