What is addiction recovery

What is addiction recovery?

Beyond abstinence, recovery is an ongoing process of learning, growing, and healing—mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) of the US Department of Health and Human Services, released an updated unified definition of recovery in December, 2011.

SAMHSA’s definition captures the most essential, common experiences of the recovery process:

“A process of change through which individuals improve their health and wellness, live a self-directed life, and strive to reach their full potential.”

SAMHSA has also identified Guiding Principles of Recovery (http://www.samhsa.gov/recovery/):

Recovery emerges from hope: The belief that recovery is real provides the essential and motivating message of a better future – that people can and do overcome the internal and external challenges, barriers, and obstacles that confront them.

Recovery is person-driven: Self-determination and self-direction are the foundations for recovery as individuals define their own life goals and design their unique path(s) towards those goals.

Recovery occurs via many pathways: Individuals are unique with distinct needs, strengths, preferences, goals, culture, and backgrounds, including trauma experiences that affect and determine their pathway(s) to recovery. Abstinence from the use of alcohol, illicit drugs, and non-prescribed medications is the goal for those with addictions.

Recovery is holistic: Recovery encompasses an individual whole life, including mind, body, spirit, and community. The array of services and supports available should be integrated and coordinated.

Recovery is supported by peers and allies: Mutual support and mutual aid groups, including the sharing of experiential knowledge and skills, as well as social learning, play an invaluable role in recovery.

Recovery is supported through relationship and social networks: An important factor in the recovery process is the presence and involvement of people who believe in the person’s ability to recover; who offer hope, support, and encouragement; and who also suggest strategies and resources for change.

Recovery is culturally-based and influenced: Culture and cultural background in all of its diverse representations, including values, traditions, and beliefs, are keys in determining a person’s journey and unique pathway to recovery.

Recovery is supported by addressing trauma: The experience of trauma (such as physical or sexual abuse, domestic violence, war, disaster, and others) is often a precursor to or associated with alcohol and drug use, mental health problems, and related issues. Services and supports should be trauma-informed to foster safety (physical and emotional) and trust, as well as promote choice, empowerment, and collaboration.

Recovery involves individual, family, and community strengths and responsibility: Individuals, families, and communities have strengths and resources that serve as a foundation for recovery. In addition, individuals have a personal responsibility for their own self-care and journeys of recovery.

Recovery is based on respect: Community, systems, and societal acceptance and appreciation for people affected by mental health and substance use problems – including protecting their rights and eliminating discrimination – are crucial in achieving recovery. There is a need to acknowledge that taking steps towards recovery may require great courage. Self-acceptance, developing a positive and meaningful sense of identity, and regaining belief in one’s self are particularly important.


About Las Vegas Recovery Center (LVRC): LVRC is a recovery center in Las Vegas that offers drug and alcohol addiction treatment as well as a holistic pain recovery program. The programs are overseen by addiction and pain expert Dr. Mel Pohl, LVRC’s Chief Medical Officer.

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