In 2005, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) offered the following Working Definition of Recovery:
“Recovery from alcohol and drug problems is a process of change through which an individual achieves abstinence and improved health, wellness and quality of life.”
Expanding on this definition, SAMHSA articulated twelve “Guiding Principles of Recovery”:
- There are many pathways to recovery.
- Recovery is self-directed and empowering.
- Recovery involves a personal recognition of the need for change and transformation.
- Recovery is holistic.
- Recovery has cultural dimensions.
- Recovery exists on a continuum of improved health and wellness.
- Recovery is supported by peers and allies.
- Recovery emerges from hope and gratitude.
- Recovery involves a process of healing and self-redefinition.
- Recovery involves addressing discrimination and transcending shame and stigma.
- Recovery involves (re)joining and (re)building a life in the community.
- Recovery is a reality. It can, will, and does happen.
In May 2011, a SAMHSA blog posting released Recovery Defined: A Unified Working Definition and Set of Principles that reflects SAMHSA’s move into a “behavioral health definition” of recovery that is inclusive of both addiction to alcohol and drugs as well as mental health recovery.
SAMHSA Working Definition of Recovery:
“Recovery is a process of change whereby individuals work to improve their own health and wellness and to live a meaningful life in a community of their choice while striving to achieve their full potential.”
SAMHSA Principles of Recovery
- Occurs via many pathways;
- Is holistic;
- Is supported by peers;
- Is supported through relationships;
- Is culturally-based and influenced;
- Is supported by addressing trauma;
- Involves individual, family, and community strengths and responsibility;
- Is based on respect; and
- Emerges from hope.