What recovery means to those who have achieved it

It depends on who you ask.  According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA), 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.

This seems obvious to most of us today but in 2005 when the agency was tasked with developing a definition and principles of recovery this signaled a momentous shift.  Recovery as a process and not an end-stage – and critically, recovery as a goal that goes well beyond abstinence.

Recovery is a journey to overall wellness.  It is not only attainable but also desirable.

SAMHSA lists four signs that let individuals know they are in recovery, including:

  • I can address problems as they happen, without using, and without getting stressed out.
  • I have at least one person I can be completely honest with.
  • I have personal boundaries and know which issues are mine and which ones belong to other people.
  • I take the time to restore my energy — physical and emotional — when I am tired.

The Stages of Recovery

There is no universal agreement on the stages of recovery from addiction.  For example, the National Institute on Drug Abuse describes the stages of recovery as early abstinence, maintaining abstinence, and advanced recovery.

Addiction.com simply aims to address the main stages and transitions that most people in recovery go through, while also recognizing that many people will travel through these stages more than once, if the slip/relapse, for example.  These three stages of recovery are:

  • The First 90 Days
  • Early Recovery
  • Maintaining Recovery

What Does This All Mean?

The meaning of ‘recovery’ continues to vary depending on who you ask.  Among people who experience it first hand, recovery is a second chance at a new life, a process toward overall wellness where the quality of life satisfaction increases as stress decreases.  It is about learning how to live and applying principles in your life instead of the defects of character some held on to for so long to self-protect and survive.

Recovery is sought and experienced as attractive and productive because it is life or death.

Recovery from addiction is possible


Let’s Hear What Recovery Means from a True Expert

Someone who is living the life:

RECOVERY means to me that I can have the life I dreamed of, however, I never thought it would be possible

RECOVERY means to me that I’m finally finding the true me whom I’m meant to be.

RECOVERY means discovering our purpose without pain.  RECOVERY means to me, I actually like whom I’m becoming.  I’m still on baby steps in early recovery with 96 days clean.  I began 5 minutes at a time, it was all I could handle; it was long and a true struggle.  I don’t remember when I went to an hour or “just for today.”  It seems the more I learn the stronger I get.

RECOVERY means to me gaining life skills – new ways to handle my past trauma. New ways to live a clean and sober life.  I’m learning I can live a clean life and be happy, clean and clear headed.  As we all know, taking the first step was the hardest thing we ever did in our life.  However, in starting my recovery journey, I have discovered my inner strength, it was ALWAYS there.   I covered it up with my addiction.

RECOVERY means learning to use that strength, and discover your true self.   At times, we felt so alone, how comforting to know God/ Higher power never left us!  It is us that ran to avoid and block out the reason we chose to use.

RECOVERY means I can now show those that never left me – the ones who loved me through it all, that I can and did change.

RECOVERY means not feeling dragged down, depressed, alone, hopeless.  I have recovery skills that will last us our lifetime we can live be happy and succeed. RECOVERY means NEVER missing out on life.  It was so easy to isolate, when I was using so no one seen the true me.  With outpatient classes and meetings, I have learned to be honest about myself and forgive myself.

RECOVERY opens so many possibilities that would have never been available to us!

RECOVERY means we can be productive members of society, not the addict/alcoholic.

RECOVERY means never hurting those we love, and love us, by using or drinking.  Recovery means my children can sleep at night not worrying about mama.

At 50 years old, I AM recovering!   I thought that was so SHAMEFUL.  RECOVERY has TAUGHT me IT IS NEVER too late!  WE DO RECOVER.

RECOVERY means we DO NOT have to face this alone.

RECOVERY is the only high that keeps getting better.

RECOVERY has taught me to tell my ego to lower its voice, while I discover myself.

RECOVERY has taught me never be ashamed of the scars life has left us.  A scar means the hurl is over the wound is closing.

RECOVERY has taught me scars are proof I showed up and won.

RECOVERY has taught me addiction CANNOT win unless we quit. RECOVERY means That’s not an option if you fall 6 times get you 7!

RECOVERY has taught me unity is power.

RECOVERY has taught me Addiction does not define me.

RECOVERY only gets better!

RECOVERY HAS TAUGHT ME IT IS SCARY BUT SO IS REMAINING THE SAME AS WE WERE.

RECOVERY HAS TAUGHT ME WHERE WE ARE IS NOT WHO WE ARE!

RECOVERY has taught me, I must have a plan.  Give it a deadline.  Write it down.  Look at it every day. Like a bucket list, once you reached your goal set another one!


The definition of recovery is described as a journey to overall wellness. Though everyone’s road to recovery looks different, it leads to a life of strength, experience, and insight. If you are seeking help to begin your journey, we encourage you to reach out to Family Life Center and utilize the resources we have readily available. We also encourage those in recovery to share your stories and follow us for more of our recovery stories, because you are not alone!

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