News & Announcements

Updated—SAMHSA’s Working Definition of Recovery

Posted: March 29, 2012

In December 2011, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) released a working definition of recovery and a set of guiding principles. At the time SAMHSA released the working definition, they had indicated continued dialogue with the field to refine the definition and principles. Based on additional stakeholder input, SAMHSA has now issued a slightly revised working definition and principles. The revised working definition and principles give more emphasis to the role of abstinence in recovery from addictions, and indicate that an individual may be in recovery from a mental disorder, a substance use disorder, or both. The revised definition is:

Recovery from Mental Disorders and/or Substance Use Disorders:  A process of change through which individuals improve their health and wellness, live a self-directed life, and strive to reach their full potential.

Through the Recovery Support Strategic Initiative, SAMHSA has delineated four major dimensions that support a life in recovery:

  • Health: overcoming or managing one’s disease(s) or symptoms—for example, abstaining from use of alcohol, illicit drugs, and non-prescribed medications if one has an addiction problem—and for everyone in recovery, making informed, healthy choices that support physical and emotional wellbeing.
  • Home: a stable and safe place to live;
  • 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; and
  • Community: relationships and social networks that provide support, friendship, love, and hope.

Guiding Principles of Recovery

  • Recovery emerges from hope
  • Recovery is person-driven
  • Recovery occurs via many pathways
  • Recovery is holistic
  • Recovery is supported by peers and allies
  • Recovery is supported through relationship and social networks
  • Recovery is culturally-based and influenced
  • Recovery is supported by addressing trauma
  • Recovery involves individual, family, and community strengths and responsibility
  • Recovery is based on respect

Read more on the SAMHSA website.

 



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