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What Does Recovery Mean? Definition and Journey

We use the term “recovery” regularly. It’s even in our name. But, not everyone may understand what recovery means and what it involves. Today, we’ll help you understand how we define recovery from addiction and share some insight on the journey of addiction recovery from the Origins perspective.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Commission known as SAMHSA defines recovery as “a process of change through which people improve their health and wellness, live self-directed lives, and strive to reach their full potential.”

The journey of recovery involves a commitment to sober living by starting with a treatment program and ongoing care once a program is finished. Origins believes an emphasis on the spiritual self is a fundamental part of recovering from substance use and incorporates a spiritual program of action within its residential treatment options for people with drug or alcohol use disorders.

Definition of Recovery from Addiction

Each person’s recovery from addiction will be unique, of course. But, we can look at the bigger picture of recovery and define it. One source that provides helpful recovery language is SAMHSA, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Commission. SAMHSA and behavioral health care partners came up with this definition:

Recovery is “a process of change through which people improve their health and wellness, live self-directed lives, and strive to reach their full potential.”

In this definition, health and wellness aren’t limited to physical health and wellness. It also encompasses mental health. The mention of recovery as a “process” means it involves a series of steps to create change.

SAMHSA builds on the definition of recovery with four specific dimensions that require support. They include health, home, purpose, and community. The health element is about making choices to support your physical and emotional health by abstaining from substance use.

The home element refers to a safe, stable living environment. Purpose is a bit broad and can include working to support one’s self, attending classes, taking care of family members, or volunteering. Community refers to creating relationships to build friendships, find love, and create support systems for yourself.

Let’s look at a second source for comparison. The definition of recovery is a bit different in a paper published in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment. An expert panel there focused on “recovery” as a summary word for benefits rather than an ongoing process.

“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.

Similar to SAMHSA’s mention of community above, “social health” is emphasized here. That term refers to a person’s ability to form healthy interpersonal relationships. Someone who is socially healthy has a sense of belonging, a concern for others, and can maintain relationships over time.

What does it mean to be in recovery from addiction?

Stopping the use of drugs or alcohol for a short time isn’t enough to say you’re in recovery from addiction. Being in recovery from addiction means you’re actively working towards creating and sustaining a sober life. You recognize the harm done to yourself and others through your substance use disorder. You’re committed to changing those old behaviors.

Being in recovery from addiction isn’t a solo act either. You understand the need for support systems from family, friends, the community, and other people in recovery. You remain focused on repairing existing relationships that were harmed by your substance use.

As you make new connections, you see the value in communicating openly and honestly and even setting boundaries.

Being in recovery also means you’re working on recognizing how other factors in your life have worsened alcohol or drug use. Mental health is a major factor that contributes to the development of an addiction.

Even though it gets addressed during inpatient or outpatient treatment, the need to continue getting help for mental health disorders remains throughout the recovery process. Addressing unresolved trauma can be another part of working on your recovery from addiction.

Seeing recovery as a journey can be helpful to someone with addiction. Like any journey, you’re the one deciding which direction to go in. You may face setbacks and disappointments along the way. It may take different approaches to make progress on your journey.

Not every person in your life will remain with you during this process. You will likely meet new people and discover new resources that will help you in your quest for sober living.

Origins Philosophy on Addiction Recovery

Like SAMHSA, we see recovery as an ongoing process. The foundation itself is created in treatment through therapeutic features of our program. It’s also embodied in our strong emphasis on the values represented by the Twelve Steps.

As an organization, we approach addiction recovery with respect, compassion, and care. We believe it’s treatable and affects the body, mind, and spirit. We convey these core beliefs and others to patients and their families to ensure everyone touched by the treatment process remains on the same page throughout.

Our philosophy on addiction recovery emphasizes the importance of a team approach. We integrate care for physical, mental health concerns, emotional, social, and spiritual needs. Also, we understand how emotional, cognitive, physical, and behavioral concerns may affect a patient’s substance use. Therapeutic strategies and medical interventions are part of an overall treatment plan.

Origins believes treating physical addiction for substance use disorders begins with ending use of any mood or mind-altering chemicals. When possible, also advocate against long-term use of benzos, the opioid medication Suboxone, and addictive prescription sleep meds.

Emphasis on spirituality is a key part of our approach to addiction recovery as well. It’s a fundamental belief that achieving a spiritual experience during treatment can greatly benefit a patient throughout recovery. By offering a program that allows for spiritual exploration, we believe a patient becomes even more fully engaged in their own healing.

Looking beyond the end of a treatment program is a vital step, too. Setting up a patient for recovery success means identifying options for structured ongoing care. We make recommendations based on an individual patient’s needs and their circumstances. In some cases, it may be recommending a transition to a sober living home or an intensive outpatient program.

Connect with Origins Today to Begin Your Recovery

Origins Behavioral Healthcare is a well-known care provider offering a range of treatment programs targeting the recovery from substance use, mental health issues, and beyond. Our primary mission is to provide a clear path to a life of healing and restoration.

We offer renowned clinical care for addiction and have the compassion and professional expertise to guide you toward lasting sobriety.


For information on our programs, call us today: 561-841-1296.

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Call or send us a message to begin your journey to wellness today.

If you or someone you love has a substance use or mental health disorder, Origins Behavioral HealthCare can help. We will work alongside you to provide the most comprehensive treatment available.