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What is Recovery?

At the 2005 National Summit on Recovery, SAMHSA/CSAT convened a diverse group of stakeholders to: 1) develop ideas to transform services, systems and policies toward recovery-oriented systems of care; 2) articulate guiding principles of recovery that can be used across programs and services; and 3) generate ideas to advance recovery-oriented systems of care across difference systems and for diverse populations (Unpublished, July 2007).

Definition of Recovery

The definition of recovery that emerged from this meeting is:

“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.”

(SAMHSA 2006, p. 6)

Principles of Recovery

Participants at the meeting also articulated a set of Guiding Principles of Recovery (SAMHSA 2006, p. 7), which are:

  • 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 involving the body, mind, relationships and spirit
  • Recovery has cultural dimensions
  • Recovery exists on a continuum of improved health and wellness
  • Recovery emerges from hope and gratitude
  • Recovery is a process of healing and self-redefinition
  • Recovery involves addressing discrimination and transcending shame and stigma
  • Recovery is supported by peers and allies
  • Recovery is (re)joining and (re)building a life in the community
  • Recovery is a reality

View the entire National Summit on Recovery: Summit Report

View additional resources on recovery


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