Recovery begins the moment a person decides to make better choices about their physical and mental well-being, work to live a meaningful self-directed life, and strive to achieve their full potential. There is no one way to be in recovery. There are multiple pathways that can lead a person to choose recovery, including: treatment, criminal justice interventions, faith/spirituality, self-help groups and more. While the journey to recovery is an intensely personal one, the basis of all recovery is hope and belief that your current circumstances can be improved, managed and overcome.
The four primary dimensions that support a life in recovery are:
Health: Making informed, healthy choices that support physical and emotional well-being, and address the symptoms of addiction.
Home: A stable and safe place to live.
Purpose: Taking part in meaningful daily activities and having the independence and resources to participate in society.
Community: Relationships and social networks that provide support, friendship, love, and hope.
With individualized care, the support of family and other loved ones, mutual assistance groups and recovery community centers, long term recovery is possible.
While it's possible for individuals to sustain recovery on their first attempt, addiction is a chronic medical condition, like diabetes or heart disease. A person with an addiction can, at times, find it difficult to follow their doctor’s advice, just as a diabetic might find it difficult to stick to a prescribed diet. A recovery plan can help keep you track with your recovery.
Recovery plans are road-maps that help you meet your recovery goals, step-by-step. Plans are broad in scope and can include anything that a person identifies as necessary to support their recovery. This can include physical health, education, employment, finances, legal, family, social life, intimate relationships, and spiritual goals. They are developed, implemented, and evaluated by treatment professionals with input from the recovering individual and/or their loved ones.
OASAS has expanded peer-based addiction services and recovery supports throughout New York State to help promote sustained recovery. Recovery supports such as Peer Engagement Specialists, Family Navigators, Youth Clubhouses, and Recovery Centers, increase the safety and well-being of those in recovery, and ensure those individuals are connected with others in the recovery community with similar experiences.
Sometimes individuals find it helpful to talk with someone that has been where you are now, and successfully been able to achieve their own recovery goals. These individuals are called peers, or Certified Recovery Peer Advocates and they are available to listen to you and help guide you on your recovery journey.
- Have first-hand, lived experience with addiction. They draw from lived experience and professional training to support the recovery goals of individuals who use or have used drugs and/or alcohol.
- Are natural experts on addiction and recovery. Support from peers can help you achieve your recovery goals, connect with others in recovery, learn life skills that help support long-term sustained recovery.
- Increase the sense safety and well-being of the individuals they support and help promote self-reliance, empowerment, and success in school, home, or work life.
Mutual assistance or self-help groups offer free support based on personal relationships. They include:
- Alcoholics Anonymous
- Narcotics Anonymous
- Secular Organizations for Sobriety (SOS)
- Women for Sobriety
- SMART Recovery, and many more.
Mutual assistance support groups for families are also available.
One of the challenges you may have in your recovery journey is learning to take care of your physical health and well-being. Effort is often required to overcome old patterns such as: neglecting routine healthcare; denying warning signs and physical symptoms; self-medicating; overeating; not getting enough sleep; getting too much sleep; or only focusing on others.
Taking time to care for our emotional, physical and spiritual health sets the stage for sustained recovery and can often prevent a host of other devastating illnesses and chronic conditions.
Steps toward achieving better overall wellness:
Medications are available to reduce cravings, ease symptoms of withdrawal, and restore balance to the parts of the brain affected by prolonged use and addiction. Medications may be used for a short or long period of time depending upon your personal recovery plan and goals. The use of medications in addiction treatment improves recovery outcomes.
Medications include Buprenorphine; methadone; or injectable naltrexone (for the treatment of opioid use disorders), and naltrexone; disulfiram; and acamprosate (for alcohol use disorder). None of these medications produce a "high".
When combined with recovery support services and behavioral therapy, medications for the treatment of addiction have been proven to:
- Improve survival
- Increase retention in treatment
- Increase the ability to gain and maintain employment
- Improve birth outcomes among women who use while they are pregnant.