Prevention Works | Treatment is Effective | People Recover

Every year in September SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) sponsors National Recovery Month in an effort to increase awareness and understanding of mental health and substance abuse issues. Each year is given a theme and 2018 is no different with the theme being Join The Voices of Recovery: Invest in Health, Home, Purpose and Community. This theme for 2018 explores how integrated care, strong communities, sense of purpose and leadership contributes to effective treatments that sustain the long-term recovery of persons with mental health and substance use disorders.

When thinking of recovery one’s mind automatically tends to cling to the notion of it pertaining to drugs and alcohol.

In reality, recovery is so much more widespread than just in respect to substances. This begs the question, what is recovery? Well according to Merriam-Webster’s definition recovery is, “the process of combating a disorder (such as alcoholism) or a real or perceived problem.” Well, I think that definition itself helps us to understand why most people automatically think of drugs and alcohol when talking about someone in recovery.

The truth is, there are innumerable forms of recovery pertaining to mental health and substance use disorders.

SAMHSA began tackling the issue of defining recovery in 2012 and to this very day it is still referred to as the “working definition of recovery from mental health and/or substance use disorders.” This working definition states 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.”

Taking it a step further, SAMHSA through the Recovery Support Initiative has delineated four major dimensions that support a life in recovery — health, home, purpose and community. And again, going even further, they went on to set forth the ten guiding principles of recovery. Essentially these guiding principles conceptualize the belief that recovery is person-driven, emerges from hope, occurs via many pathways, is holistic, is supported by peers and allies, is supported through relationships and social networks, is culturally-based and influenced, is supported by addressing trauma, involves both self and community strengths and responsibility, and is based on respect.

This working definition and it’s inclusivity of all mental health disorders is definitely something we can “work” with — no pun intended!

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