If you’re sober, congratulations! You made it. You moved past the most difficult part of the journey. In other words, you went through the challenges of seeking help and the discomfort of the withdrawal process. In fact, there’s an old saying that goes: Once begun, half done. Once you’ve started, you’re already half way there. And you could say this applies to getting sober too.
But there’s a significant second half to this process and that is recovery. You might say that recovery is the process of returning to a normal state of health, mind, or strength.
According to the Alcohol Research Group at the Public Health Institute, recovery is “a goal of alcohol treatment and recovery-oriented systems of care are being developed to support that goal.” According to the Betty Ford Institute, “recovery from substance dependence is a voluntarily maintained lifestyle characterized by sobriety, personal health, and citizenship.”
Lastly, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) “recovery from alcohol and drugs problems is a process of change through which an individual achieves abstinence and improved health, wellness, and quality of life.”
Furthermore, SAMHSA outlined 12 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.
And SAMHSA includes four major areas of life that recovery needs to include:
- Health – Overcoming or managing one’s disease(s) as well as living in a physically and emotionally healthy way.
- Home – A stable and safe place to live that supports recovery.
- Purpose – 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 – Relationships and social networks that provide support, friendship, love, and hope.
It’s clear from the definitions above that recovery is much more than getting sober. It’s tending to an improved health, wellness, and quality of life. It’s making sure you have a safe place to live, healthy mind and body, a sense of meaning and purpose in your life, and a community of friends and family.
Recovery is much more than getting sober. It’s a process of changing your life and becoming someone new. It’s a process of discovering who you are – that person who doesn’t need alcohol or drugs to be happy or to manage their life. Recovery is about uncovering happiness and health inside of yourself.