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What Does it Mean to Be in Recovery?

When people use the word “recovery” to describe the process of getting off of alcohol or other substances, they are employing a wide variety of running definitions. Because of such a nebulous definition and understanding of the process, you may be unaware of what it actually means to be “in recovery.” How you define recovery will dictate your rehab process and the decisions you make afterward.

How Is Addiction Recovery Defined?

According to the SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration), recovery is “A process of change through which individuals improve their health and wellness, live a self-directed life, and strive to reach their full potential.” To give people a fuller understanding of recovery, SAMHSA has also described four elements of recovery that are essential to finding a better life.

Four dimensions of recovery include:

Heath – This dimension involves overcoming your physical dependence on drugs or alcohol and abstaining from any further substance abuse. This aspect of change also involves making good choices that lead to and support physical and emotional health. Unfortunately, your body will suffer many consequences because of addiction to drugs. The process of recovery will begin as you detox, but you will continue to make good decisions to develop and maintain physical health, including remaining drug-free. However, making choices about your physical health might include changing your diet, exercising, or taking better care of your body (more sleep, regular check-ups, etc.)

Home – This dimension means that you will find and maintain a stable and safe place to live. This applies not only to you, but also to the people around you. For example, you will want to make your home safe for your children or elderly parents. This may mean changing the neighborhood in which you live or repairing your home. Creating a stable and safe home also contains an emotional aspect to it. Family members need to know that your home is safe from emotional or physical abuse. They need to know that your behavior will not be chaotic and unpredictable as it was when you were on drugs.

Purpose – Part of recovery means finding and keeping meaning in your daily life. Activities in your daily life that may give you purpose and meaning could include advancing in your career, caring for family, earning a steady income, volunteering, and participating in community activities. Addicts are unable to find purpose in their lives because every day is spent using drugs, trying to acquire more drugs, or thinking about when they can use again. Recovery means bringing purpose back into your daily life.

Community – One of the main areas of your life that has been affected by addiction is your community, or those who are in relationship with you. Those relationships have been damaged because of addiction, and recovery involves re-establishing relationships that will offer love, support, and accountability.

Understanding what recovery involves is important. Without a good definition, you may become discouraged by the longevity of recovery or may think that recovery ends when you leave rehab. Recovery is intentional and requires a lifelong commitment.

Getting Help for Your Addiction

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, we can help. You can call our toll-free helpline anytime, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You can talk with one of our admissions coordinators about your addiction and find the best treatment options for your situation. Recovery is a lifelong journey that begins as soon as you get help, so call us today.