Is recovery only achievable with acceptance of one's own drug and alcohol dependence?

Posted in: Alcohol, Drugs by John Richmond on 1 May 2013
Tagged with: Delphi Medical

In part six of our series on service concerns about drug and alcohol recovery, we explore the notion that recovery is only possible once an addicted person develops insight into their own dependency.

The majority of people experiencing physical and mental problems associated with substance misuse do not come into contact with specialty drug and alcohol treatment services. Of those who do, many present to services in ways not directly assosciated with their substance use. For instance, someone might attend with relationship difficulties, physical health problems, or low mood with no clue that these are affected by substance use and misuse.

While insight into a diagnosis is a positive step to help addicted people manage their illness, is it really necessary that this has to occur before recovery can begin? Our response views drug and alcohol recovery as a fluid process:

Insight into a diagnosis of dependency can offer value for progress
If we mean by insight that a patient is forced to accept that they have a debilitating condition which prevents them from being 'normal' without treatment or complete sobriety, then insight may in fact inhibit recovery. This is pessimism masquerading as insight. More positively, if insight simply means a person recognises something has gone wrong in their lives, if only by the fact that they have come into contact with a service to address their addiction, then every patient can achieve this.

Consider on an individual basis what role treatment can play, if any
Treatments for drug and alcohol dependency can be incredibly effective, but may play a major or minor part in the recovery process according to the individual. Are prescribing and stabilisation obligatory first steps to lasting recovery? We'd argue no.

The way in which treatment is situated within a patient's life is significant, too. People might respond better to 'if you don't want to be bothered by withdrawal symptoms whilst at work, this medication might help', instead of 'if you take this medication and get stable we can look at how we can help you get some training towards employment'.

People need not delay resumption of normal activities until treatment is completed
We know that recovery is a multifaceted process, one which involves reintegration and meaningful engagement in society like getting a job, making friends, paying taxes. It is in the pursuit of these activities that people can best make use of treatment.

Delphi Medical can help people manage their dependency, irrespective of specific insight into their diagnosis, initiating positive change from which further improvements will develop.


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:

Is recovery only possible with acceptance of one's own dependency? It's a legitimate question we tackle here by @DelphiMedical on 01/05/2013 16:24:35
How do you advocate recovery? Read about our approach by @DelphiMedical on 03/06/2013 09:45:18