Monday, July 22, 2013

Recovery is a Misnomer

The world has come a long way with regard to accepting the concept of "Recovery" when it comes to describing what is involved when one tries to overcome a substance use issue. The world's acceptance of the term recovery is a step in the right direction overall. Recovery implies that getting better is a process and not an event, which is most definitely true when it comes to addiction. Recovery is a hopeful term which is synonymous with healing which is also extremely positive and beneficial. Recovery involves getting back what one once lost, similar to the way someone who is gets sick, returns to health and back to their former state of functioning. It is this particular aspect of recovery however that needs to be reevaluated.

Recovery, by definition means:

1.      to get back or regain (something lost or taken away)
2.      to regain health after being sick, wounded, or the like: to recover from an illness.
3.      to regain a former and better state or condition

In reality, however people are using drugs and alcohol at younger and younger ages. Access to drugs has increased in many neighborhoods. An increasing number of people who face substance use issues today come from situations where substance use is commonplace in people's immediate neighborhood; right outside their home in some situations. For many young people, drug use occurs right in the home with parents, siblings and even in some cases grandparents and extended family. It is with this growing population that recovery is a misnomer. For example: consider a young person with a drug problem who grew up in a drug-laden housing complex raised only by a mother who used drugs with an incarcerated father who himself came from a drug selling gang. The person in this example or any person in a similar scenario may never fully have the opportunity to learn the basic healthy coping skills and supports needed for proper development. When these coping skills, tools, and supports are either minimal or unavailable in one's life from an early stage then in actuality there may be little nothing to "recover" when it comes to returning to a previous state of positive functioning. In other words, for countless individuals with substance use issues, there is no former better state or condition to return to in recovery due to unfortunate circumstances beyond their control as children. In the treatment world we are seeing this more and more. A new perspective is sorely needed:

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