Why being in recovery doesn't necessarily mean being drug-free

Posted in: Alcohol, Core Values, Drugs by John Richmond on 19 April 2013
Tagged with: Delphi Medical

In the third of our series addressing service concerns about drug and alcohol recovery, we look into if a person can be 'cured' if they are still using illicit substances.

The term 'recovery' is not a synonym for 'cure'. It refers to a journey undertaken with definitive goals but which are situated within an indeterminate timeframe. Some patients who commit to their recovery do succeed; they are cured of their addiction, and do not return to substance misuse or relapse with other destructive behaviours. Lessons learned from such patients are limited in the broader realm of care we provide, however, since recovery is rarely this simple.

At Delphi Medical, a frequent concern we encounter is the perceived contradiction of a person 'in' recovery who still uses alcohol or drugs. Read our recovery-oriented response: 

Recovery means different things for different people
To say that a person is cured when they stop using isn't necessarily true, as recovery is more or less a lifelong process. A definition of recovery, wherein a person is completely cured of their dependence, is least likely to apply to the people with addictions we see the most. A person who uses occasionally is not necessarily removed from the route to recovery. It's typical for substance users to relapse at least once, and suggests the need for additional and personal support to encourage continued progress toward recovery. It also highlights that there can be a multiplicity of meanings of recovery, dependent on the individual and their circumstance.

Where substance misuse sits within recovery
As a treatment service provider, we recognise the most relevant notion of recovery is one that allows for continued disability. It is a realistic, human approach. This form of recovery speaks directly to a person's right to belong to a society, and participate in normal life. Importantly, this definition of recovery allows for those with more severe dependency problems, and it orientates services to uphold their human rights.


This series refers to 'A practical Guide to Recovery Orientated Practice' by Davidson et al, published by Oxford University Press 2009. 

Who's Tweeting about this:

Can a person be 'cured' if they are still using illicit substances? by @DelphiMedical on 19/04/2013 16:03:42
@colette_carroll have a read of the link and let us know what you think? Still using does not exclude recovery by @DelphiMedical on 19/04/2013 21:02:25