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Life After Substance Abuse

womanA new position paper posits “recovery” for people with substance abuse disorders is more than abstinence from alcohol and drugs. Experts believe a holistic appreciation of life, including a ‘wellness’ lifestyle and community involvement, is integral for a successful life after addiction.

The comments, authored by a panel of experts from the Betty Ford Institute and found in the October issue of the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment (JSAT), portray recovery as “a voluntarily maintained lifestyle characterized by sobriety, personal health, and citizenship.”

Although “recovery” is widely recognized as the goal of treatment for substance abuse disorders, there has been no widely accepted definition of what the term actually means.

“Recovery may be the best word to summarize all the positive benefits to physical, mental, and social health that can happen when alcohol- and other drug-dependent individuals get the help they need,” the expert panel writes.

The panel’s report outlines some of the thinking behind key components of the definition.

Sobriety—meaning complete abstinence from alcohol and all other nonprescribed drugs—is regarded as necessary, but not in itself sufficient for recovery.

The panel suggests a classification to define the duration of sobriety: “early” sobriety between one month and one year; “sustained” sobriety, between one and five years; and “stable” sobriety, five years or longer. People in “stable” recovery are thought to be at lower risk of relapse.

Personal health is included as a component of recovery that may be of special importance to substance abusers and their families, as well as to society.

In this context, personal health refers not only to physical and mental health, but also to social health—ie, participation in social roles and supports.

Citizenship refers to “giving back” to community and society. While acknowledging the need refine this part of the definition, the panel felt is was important to recognize the traditional place of citizenship as a key element of recovery.

The panel members hope their definition will help in overcoming some of the remaining obstacles to substance abuse treatment—including the stigma associated with being in recovery.

They liken being “in recovery” to being a “cancer survivor”—a term reflecting research evidence that the risk of relapse is significantly reduced for patients who are cancer-free after five years.

“[P]ublic discussion of survival rates has increased the proportion of individuals willing to get early screening for [cancer] and to take preventive measures,” the experts write.

They hope that their new definition of recovery “might be the beginning of a similar course of events in the addiction field. If recovery can be effectively captured, distilled, and communicated, it can come to be expectable by those now suffering from addiction.”

This in turn could promote more realistic perceptions of recovery, and its true worth from social and economic standpoint.

Source: Elsevier

Life After Substance Abuse

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). Life After Substance Abuse. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 14, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2007/11/02/life-after-substance-abuse/1483.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.