When you hear the word “recovery,” you might only think of someone who has an ongoing addiction to alcohol or drugs. But according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), a department of the U.S. government, recovery can be any “process of change through which people improve their health and wellness, live self-directed lives and strive to reach their full potential.” The goal of recovery is to help people with mental health, addiction or substance use disorders successfully manage their conditions.
Below are some frequently-asked questions about the recovery process.
Is it still called recovery if it’s not related to alcohol or drug use?
Yes. Recovery is any process during which a person is making an attempt to overcome a condition or addiction that is affecting their health and wellness and their daily lives (personal relationships, employment, finances, etc.). A person who chooses treatment and recovery is making a conscious choice to move onto the next phase of their life. Treatment programs are available not just for alcohol and drug addiction, but also for other unhealthy addictions and behavioral health conditions like anorexia, bulimia, binge eating, self-mutilation (such as cutting or burning), gambling addiction, sex addiction, hoarding and compulsive shopping.
What if I have a relapse? Is my recovery over?
No. A relapse during or after treatment is definitely not a sign of failure. Addiction experts maintain that relapses are a normal part of recovery. In fact, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports that an estimated 40-60% of people relapse after completing substance abuse treatment. And an estimated 90% of gambling addicts relapse at least once, and sometimes more, during treatment and recovery.
So if I don’t relapse after treatment, does that means I’m completely cured?
Unfortunately, there is no cure for addiction. Recovery does not mean that you’ve recovered from your addiction. It just means that you are working on successfully managing your addiction and regaining control of your life. If you don’t relapse after treatment, that’s great! But once you’re in recovery for your addiction or behavioral health condition, you’re in recovery for the rest of your life.
Why is my recovery taking so long?
Recovery is a lifelong process, so it’s not something that has an endpoint. Everyone’s recovery journey is unique, so you may find that what works for someone else might not work for you. Just remember that you’re not alone. According to a Gallup poll, the effects of alcohol and drug abuse are felt by around 50% of Americans. This doesn’t even take into account all the other addictions and disorders that people seek treatment for.
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Date Last Reviewed: July 19, 2021
Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor
Medical Review: Perry Pitkow, MD