Recovery defined

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Ball recovery

Recovery and Resiliency.
Photo courtesy of

What exactly is recovery?

Should we describe someone as “In recovery,” “recovering” or recovered? What about resilience. Is it in any way related to recovery? This month SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) suggested a working definition for recovery.

The word recovery is commonly used when talking about substance abuse. Recently mental health has tried to incorporate wellness and recovery language into mental health programs. But it has long been clear that not everyone agrees about what is meant by recovery.

Trying to define recovery has always been a challenge.  Not the dictionary definition, which is relatively straightforward but not simple. Some common dictionary definitions of recovery include 1 A return to health 2 Return to a normal state 3 Gaining back something that was lost. The hard part was to explain what recovery meant when related to the issues of mental health and substance abuse.

Many people describe themselves as recovering. By that they mean they are struggling with a chronic progressive disease like alcoholism or drug addiction. They do not believe you are ever cured of a chronic disease condition and continue to remind themselves that at any moment they could experience a recurrence if they were to relax their vigilance.

Some people prefer the term “in recovery.” They believe that recovery is not a passive thing that happens to them but something that requires their active participation. They need to climb on board the recovery train and move towards their goal.

Some old-time AA members describe themselves as “recovered” and they point to the title page to the book “Alcoholics Anonymous” which states that the book is “the story of how many thousands of men and women have recovered from Alcoholism.” They further point out the book say that “we are not cured” but “have recovered from a hopeless state of mind and body.”  The thought that anyone could ever be fully recovered scares other people. They point out that accepting being recovered might lead someone to become careless and think that there is not more work to do on themselves.

SAMHS has suggested the following as a working definition of recovery:

A process of change through which individuals improve their health and wellness, live a self-directed life, and strive to reach their full potential.

SAMHSA delineates four major dimensions that support a life in recovery, Health, Home, Purpose, and Community.

A resiliency researcher tried to explain the difference between recovery and resiliency as – Recovery is coming back from negative consequences and resiliency as the ability to continue to function despite traumas.

A short way to think of this might be – Recovery is the process of getting back to where you were, regaining your life and Resiliency is handling life on life’s terms.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Seven David Joel Miller Books are available now!

My newest book is now available. It was my opportunity to try on a new genre. I’ve been working on this book for several years, but now seem like the right time to publish it.

Story Bureau.

Story Bureau is a thrilling Dystopian Post-Apocalyptic adventure in the Surviving the Apocalypse series.

Baldwin struggles to survive life in a post-apocalyptic world where the government controls everything.

As society collapses and his family gets plunged into poverty, Baldwin takes a job in the capital city, working for a government agency called the Story Bureau. He discovers the Story Bureau is not a benign news outlet but a sinister government plot to manipulate society.

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Dark Family Secrets: Doris wants to get her life back, but small-town prejudice could shatter her dreams.

Casino Robbery Arthur Mitchell escapes the trauma of watching his girlfriend die. But the killers know he’s a witness and want him dead.

Planned Accidents  The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.

Letters from the Dead: The third in the Arthur Mitchell mystery series.

What would you do if you found a letter to a detective describing a crime and you knew the writer and detective were dead, and you could be next?

Sasquatch. Three things about us, you should know. One, we have seen the past. Two, we’re trapped there. Three, I don’t know if we’ll ever get back to our own time.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

For videos, see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel

3 thoughts on “Recovery defined

  1. Pingback: Getting some recovery – preventing relapse | counselorssoapbox

  2. Pingback: Why giving up the drugs and alcohol didn’t make you happy | counselorssoapbox

  3. I have been co dependent for as long as I can remember. Getting back to where I was is not really a healthy place for me. Still, I enjoyed your post and education on recovery is always a good thing.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.