Have you ever thought to yourself, “What is recovery?” Is it simply abstaining from drugs and alcohol, or is it something more? Many people would argue the latter. One study found most people who self-identify as being “in recovery” define it as a continuous process that never ends. Instead of pinpointing it as a single event on a timeline, most people view their recovery as a physical, mental, and spiritual process that affects all aspects of life and changes the way they live.
Although the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) defines addiction recovery as a process that incorporates continuous growth and change, abstinence from drugs and alcohol, and improved health, wellness, and quality of life, not all would agree.
One group of researchers took data from one 2015 internet survey of more than 9,000 people in recovery and studied it to further understand the perspectives of people who identified as being in recovery. As such, they were able to identify five different classes or typologies of individuals in recovery, from their personal understanding of what recovery means.
The study’s process involved asking each participant to rate several elements of recovery from their personal beliefs. The elements were categorized into the following aspects of recovery:
Essentials of recovery
Enrichment of recovery
For each individual element of recovery in the above categories, survey respondents told researchers whether the item:
Definitely belonging in their definition of recovery
Somewhat belonged in their definition of recovery
Did not belong in their definition of recovery, but may belong in other people’s definition of recovery
Did not belong in a definition of recovery
The results gave researchers a big-picture view of the different ways people who have experienced substance use disorders define recovery.
Why Does This Matter?
Just as the medical and clinical definition of drug and alcohol addiction has changed over time, so have treatment methods. Likewise, the definition of recovery will continue to change through people’s understanding of it.
The study referenced above is important because it provides a greater understanding of what recovery means to people who have overcome substance use disorders in America today. This can help addiction treatment providers tailor their services to the individual needs of people in recovery.
Regardless of how a person defines “recovery,” some treatment services may still need to remain the same and, of course, not all people in recovery will fit into a single category. However, having distinguished typologies can help treatment providers better meet the needs of people who are recovering from substance use disorders.
5 Types of Recovery
Highly these adhere to the principles outlined in the 12-Step Program
Consider abstinence an important part of recovery (more than 90% do not drink alcohol or do drugs)
Likely of the five types to attend regular 12-Step meetings (85% attended more than 90 meetings)
Strongly endorsing spiritual aspects of recovery
Most common of the five types of people in recovery (was the largest group in the study)
More than 80% identify as being in recovery
They place similar importance on the principles of the 12-Step Program, like 12-Step Traditionalists
Consider abstinence an important part of recovery (85% do not drink alcohol or do drugs)
Likely to attend 12-Step meetings, but less so than 12-Step Traditionalists (80% attended more than 90 meetings)
Moderately endorsing spiritual aspects of recovery. They strongly endorse all principles of the 12-Step Program, but are less likely to endorse the importance of helping others, giving back, and being in relationships
75% identify as being in recovery
Younger and have been sober for a shorter period than the other four types
Do not completely endorse full abstinence in recovery (one-fourth of respondents still consumed alcohol)
Less likely to attend 12-Step meetings (38% attended over 90 meetings)
Endorse the idea that recovery is physical and mental but has nothing to do with spirituality or religion
Largely defining recovery with an emphasis on personal growth, health, and wellness
60% identify as being in recovery
Consider abstinence an important part of recovery (more than 75% do not drink alcohol or do drugs)
May attended 12-Step meetings (65% attended over 90 meetings)
Some generally endorse spiritual aspects of recovery, although 25% believe spirituality may belong in each other’s definitions of recovery
Not likely to believe that the following points are essential elements of recovery: learning how to get support, helping others, giving back, being able to have relationships, and having non-using friends
More independent and less rational
75% identify as being in recovery
Less likely than the other four types to stress the importance of complete abstinence in recovery (25% abstain from drugs but drink alcohol)
This may endorse spiritual aspects of recovery, but many do not (more than 60% do not believe recovery is religious in nature)
More likely than the other four types to endorse natural recovery (more than 10%)
Strongly endorse the process of growth and development and being able to enjoy life
50% identify as being in recovery
Where Your Loved One Can Seek Addiction Treatment
If your loved one has been struggling with addiction, Pinnacle Peak can help. Here, at Pinnacle Peak Recovery, we provide a small, family-like environment for those seeking recovery from addiction. During their time in our program, clients will learn how to stay sober and rebuild a life that’s worth living.
Some various addiction treatment programs we offer here include the following:
Inpatient drug rehab
Partial hospitalization program
Intensive outpatient program
Strong alumni community
Call Pinnacle Peak Recovery today at 866-377-4813 to help your loved one receive the treatment they deserve.