From Treatment to Sustained Recovery

by
William L. White, M.A.

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.

Excerpted from HBO: Addiction: Aftercare