Recovery is a journey—different for each person—that often begins with addiction treatment but lasts well after the treatment period is over.
People can and do recover from addiction. One in 10 Americans identifies as having previously had a substance use disorder. 
There are many different types of recovery options available. It’s important that people seeking recovery from SUD are given guidance from care providers, empowered to choose a path that manages their health and wellbeing, and supported along their journey.
Most people recovering from severe SUD need ongoing monitoring and long-term recovery support.
Like other chronic diseases, such as cancer or heart disease, recovery support for SUD helps patients manage their condition.
Dr. Rob Whitley with McGill University and Dr. Robert Drake at Dartmouth Psychiatric Research Center published an article in Psychiatric Services that outlines five dimensions of recovery support. While the focus of the Whitley/Drake framework is on mental health, the structure can also be applied to patients with a SUD.
Supporting Your Loved One’s Recovery
Family support is an important part of the recovery journey. Recovery is stronger when all family members understand the nature of drug addiction and are involved in the healing process. Research supports family involvement to be a significant factor in predicting longterm recovery.
You can support your loved one in a variety of ways, including:
Helping your loved one remember to take all prescribed medications;
Ask if your loved one would like you attend their treatment appointments;
Stay engaged with their treatment team and be a resource;
Go "meeting shopping" with your loved one to help find the right one;
Helping to create a sober peer network;
Knowing the signs of relapse and removing substances that could trigger a relapse;
Being loving, patient and nonjudgmental; and
Learn about addiction.
An excerpt from Navigating Addiction and Treatment: A Guide for Families, Addiction Policy Forum, 2020.
A Note From Addiction Policy Forum
Substance use disorders get worse over time. The earlier treatment starts the better the chances for long-term recovery. Many families are wrongly told to “wait for rock bottom” and that their loved one needs to feel ready to seek treatment in order for it to work. The idea that we should wait for the disease to get worse before seeking treatment is dangerous. Imagine if we waited until stage 4 to treat cancer. Decades of research has proven that the earlier someone is treated, the better their outcomes—and that treatment works just as well for patients who are compelled to start treatment by outside forces as it does for those who are self-motivated to enter treatment.
Help is Here
If you have questions or need to speak with someone for support, call or text (833) 301-4357 today. Our staff of trained counselors at Addiction Policy Forum provides free, confidential support to anyone in need of help with a Substance Use Disorder issue, including patients, families and healthcare providers.
Addiction A - Z Topics
National Institutes of Health. (2015). 10 percent of US adults have drug use disorder at some point in their lives. Retrieved from www.nih.gov/news-events/news-releases/10- percent-us-adults-have-drug-use-disordersome-point-their-lives
Whitley, R. & Drake, R. E. (2010). Recovery: A Dimensional Approach. Journal of Psychiatric Services. Retrieved from https://ps.psychiatryonline.org/doi/pdf/10.117 6/ps.2010.61.12.1248