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5 Facts about Recovery

Just in time for National Recovery Month in September, check out these facts that relate to many forms of recovery, including recovery from alcohol and drug abuse.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), which sponsors Recovery Month, is the primary source of this information.

1. RECOVERY MUST ADDRESS THE PERSON’S UNIQUE SITUATION: An effective form of recovery, according to SAMHSA, is a plan “tailored to address each patient’s drug abuse patterns and drug-related medical, psychiatric, and social problems.” Treatment may include medication as well as behavioral therapy.

2. HOPE IS THE ENGINE THAT STARTS RECOVERY: For many people, SAMHSA explains, recovery “emerges from hope.” In other words, “the belief that recovery is real provides the essential and motivating message of a better future—that people can and do overcome the internal and external challenges, barriers, and obstacles that confront them.”

3. OVERCOME PAST TRAUMA TO BUILD TRUST AND EMPOWERMENT: During the recovery process, it is important to come face-to-face with any possible traumatic situation that led to substance abuse. As expressed by SAMHSA, “trauma (such as physical or sexual abuse, domestic violence, war, disaster, and others) is often a precursor to or associated with alcohol and drug use, mental health problems, and related issues. Services and supports should be trauma-informed to foster safety (physical and emotional) and trust, as well as promote choice, empowerment, and collaboration.”

4. RESPECT IS A KEY ELEMENT: “Recovery is based on respect,” SAMHSA says. “There is a need to acknowledge that taking steps towards recovery may require great courage. Self-acceptance, developing a positive and meaningful sense of identity, and regaining belief in one’s self are particularly important.”

5. RECOVERY TO HELP YOUNG ADULTS COPE: “Half of all lifetime cases of mental and substance use disorders begin by age 14 and three-fourths by age 24,” SAMHSA reveals. “Emphasizing prevention education, teaching coping skills, and supporting wellness activities will help young people emerge through challenges.”


FACT #1: National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2009). Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide. Retrieved August 29, 2012 from, p. 3.

FACTS #2, 3 & 4: SAMHSA Blog. (2012). SAMHSA’s Working Definition of Recovery Updated. Retrieved August 29, 2012 from

FACT #5: Kessler, R.C., Berglund, P., Demler, O., Jin, R., Merikangas, K.R., and Walters, E.E. (2005). Lifetime prevalence and age-of-onset distributions of DSM-IV disorders in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication. Archives of General Psychiatry, 62(6), 593-602. Retrieved August 29, 2012 from

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Page updated: September 12th, 2013


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