From Treatment to Sustained Recovery

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Professional treatment of alcohol and drug problems can start someone on the road to recovery, but a few weeks of treatment should not be mistaken for long-term recovery.

If you have severe alcohol and other drug problems, you should know that successful recovery from these problems involves significant changes over time in:

  • personal identity and beliefs
  • family and social relationships
  • daily lifestyle

It is about where you live, how you work and play, who is included and excluded from your life, and how you cope with the stresses of daily life. Recovery is more than just not drinking or using drugs; it is about putting together a new and meaningful life in which alcohol and drugs no longer have a place. Recovery from addiction is not like getting over an infection for which we can rest and take medication for a week or two and then get back to our otherwise unchanged lives. Those who view treatment for addiction in this way make up the group for whom treatment does not work. Recovery from addiction is closer to how someone successfully manages diabetes or heart disease - conditions that require sustained decisions and actions for life.

The Good News

  • The positive effects of addiction treatment are substantial, as measured by sustained sobriety (about one-third of those treated) and decreases in substance use and substance-related problems.
  • Active participation in treatment aftercare meetings and recovery support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous can significantly improve your chance of permanent recovery, improve your quality of life and prolong your life expectancy.
  • Combining professional treatment and attending recovery support meetings improve your chances of recovery better than either activity alone.
  • Lifetime recovery rates of people with a substance use disorder approach or exceed 50%. There are millions of individuals and their families in long-term recovery from the effects of severe substance use problems.
  • There are multiple pathways and styles (secular, spiritual, religious) of long-term addiction recovery
  • Recovering people can go on to lead lives of significant achievement and community service
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