Approximately 20.8 million Americans aged 12 or older had a substance use disorder related to their use of alcohol or illicit drugs according to the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NDSUH). However, only 10.8 percent of those who needed treatment received treatment at a specialty facility.
Among the reasons individuals struggling with substance use disorders do not seek treatment is fear, shame, and denial. When recovery is defined as a life-long battle bound by stigmatization and labels, it is easy to deny the problem and the need for help.
How we define recovery matters. When we define it in a way that generates fear and shame, we prevent others from getting the help they need. When hope and empowerment are absent, so is motivation. Hope is not something we have or do not have, but a way of thinking. We can cultivate hope by changing what is in our power to change and having the confidence to effectuate change. However, we are stripped of that hope when we believe we are powerless.
When we define recovery as an opportunity to heal, grow, and re-envision life, we know the effort will not be in vein. We want to improve our lives. We can cultivate hope, resilience, and determination in recovery while actively investing in our lives and holistic wellbeing. Recovery can give us the opportunity to live our best self and best life if we define in a way that empowers us.
The meaning of recovery is changing. We can see that in the implementation of positive psychology in recovery. We can also see it in support groups like SMART Recovery, Books4Recovery, and LifeRing, where we are empowered to take ownership of our lives and effectuate positive change in a supportive environment. It is not unusual to hear laughter at these meetings, because there is joy in recovery and in celebrating and supporting each other.
The many pathways to recovery now available allow individuals to define their own recovery in a way that works best for them. The use of addiction recovery coaches in recovery allow individuals to define their own recovery path and create a plan that promotes autonomy and self-efficacy. There are also organizations like Choice in Recovery that are dedicated to educating the population about options in recovery (choiceinrecovery.net).
In celebration of National Recovery Month in September, let us give recovery a new meaning that empowers and motivates those struggling with addiction so they can feel confident that recovery is a means to an end, not the end.