Defining Addiction Recovery

A panel of experts from the Betty Ford Institute recently drafted a definition of addiction recovery. Published in the October 2007 issue of the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, the definition describes recovery as “a voluntarily maintained lifestyle characterized by sobriety, personal health, and citizenship.”

The expert panel writes, “Although ‘recovery’ is widely recognized as the goal of treatment for substance abuse disorders, there has been no widely accepted definition of what the term actually means. 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.”

The panel’s report also noted the difference between sobriety and recovery. While abstinence from alcohol and non-prescribed drugs (sobriety) is necessary for recovery, being sober doesn’t necessarily mean that a person is in recovery. Personal health was also included as a component of recovery.

The panel members hope that defining recovery will help break down barriers to getting into treatment, specifically the stigma that goes along with being a recovering addict. They liken being “in recovery” to being a “cancer survivor.”

What does recovery mean to you? Please share by commenting below.

Read more: Substance abuse practitioners ask ‘what is recovery?’

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