Defining recovery from addiction

To delve into an important and often discussed issue, we are talking today about the definition of recovery from addiction. Much has been written on this definition over the years since the working definition was developed by the Betty Ford Institute over a decade ago. We also have a shared definition from SAMHSA that encompasses both mental health and substance use recovery. There are many others, some include the definition of resolving a substance use disorder below the threshold of full addiction.

It can all get quite confusing and one wonders if we are any closer to a unifying definition. In Pennsylvania, about a decade ago, a work group was formed to define addiction recovery as part of the process to develop a recovery-oriented system of care for the state, it was people in recovery from addiction defining recovery from addiction, which is an important point to note.

Recently, a group called NACSUR, the National Advisory Council on Substance Use Recovery took that Pennsylvania definition and updated to incorporate more contemporary language.

That definition of recovery is:

“Recovery – A highly individualized, voluntarily maintained lifestyle characterized by personal health and citizenship that requires abstinence from all mood and mind-altering substances. Recovery may be assisted through the use of medication that are appropriately prescribed and taken. It includes the pursuit of spiritual, emotional, mental and physical well-being and is often supported by others.”

How does this definition sit with readers?  Additionally, we may ask readers how far we may be able to go in respect to developing a more universal understanding of what addiction recovery is and why it is important to have one for the future until we have a widely recognized definition that is written for and by people in recovery from addiction.

What are your thoughts?