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The Key Principles of Recovery

10 principles of recovery samhsa

Recovery is a broad term, as it can apply to recovery from an illness, a relationship, a job, an addiction… The list goes on. For the purposes of this article, we are discussing recovery from mental health and substance use disorders – an important topic that is especially relevant this month.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) defines recovery from mental illness and substance use disorders as “a process of change.” Individuals who are in recovery are working through h the process of improving their health and wellness, living a self-directed life, and striving to reach their fullest potential. According to SAMHSA, recovery is possible for everyone who is battling one of these mental health conditions—and when they seek treatment, they are met with this knowledge: Anyone can recover and manage their conditions successfully.

Each September, we recognize National Recovery Month – a national observance designed to promote recovery from mental health and substance use disorders. This year, Recovery Month is particularly dedicated to the fact that recovery is achievable. As stated on the SAMHSA website, “With the right treatment, support, and resources, recovery is possible for everyone.”

However, there are certain guiding principles that make recovery attainable. Defined by SAMHSA, these principles of recovery are essential for treatment providers and families to understand as they help others through the process. Those who are in recovery should also recognize these guiding principles, as they promote healing and positivity each step of the way.

SAMHSA’s 10 Guiding Principles of Recovery

  1. Recovery emerges from hope. 

Hope is the catalyst of the recovery process, according to SAMHSA experts. One must believe that recovery is real and achievable, and that people can overcome the challenges of addiction and mental illness (as well as the barriers that confront them). This is especially motivating and helps to inspire engagement in treatment.

  1. Recovery is personal.

Self-direction and self-determination are fundamental to a successful recovery, and individuals must set personal goals to be successful. Personal accountability, autonomy, and independence are also important in carving one’s own path to reach recovery.

  1. Recovery can occur via many different pathways.

There is not one, single way to achieve recovery. It is not a linear process, either, as everyone’s journey will be unique. One’s own path will be determined based on their needs, their continual growth, and any obstacles they might face along the way. According to SAMHSA, “Recovery is built on the multiple capacities, strengths, talents, coping abilities, resources, and inherent value of each individual.”

  1. Recovery is holistic.

Recovery encompasses an individual’s whole self—mind, body, spirit, and community. All a person’s needs, from housing to family, clinical treatment to mental health therapy, healthcare to self-care, must be supported. Support and care should also be integrated and coordinated.

  1. Recovery is supported by peers and allies.

Peer support is pivotal in recovery, as peers can encourage and engage one another throughout the process. This can foster a sense of belonging, value, confidence, support, and community. Professionals can also play an important role, as allies, by providing clinical treatment and services that help individuals throughout their path of recovery.

  1. Recovery requires healthy relationships and social support.

Not only does a person need to believe in their own recovery, but those around them should also believe in their ability to recover. Family members, peers, faith groups, community members, treatment providers, and other support networks are important in offering hope and encouragement throughout the recovery process.

  1. Recovery is culturally based and influenced.

A person’s recovery pathway should be influenced by one’s culture, including their values, traditions, and beliefs. Any treatment services should be sensitive and attuned to one’s cultural background.

  1. Recovery is supported by addressing past trauma.

Trauma is all too often a precursor to addiction and mental health issues. Traumatic experiences such as physical and sexual abuse, domestic violence, war, and disaster can trigger mental health symptoms and related problems. For this reason, treatment services need to be trauma-informed to ensure there is a sense of safety and trust in the recovery process.

  1. Recovery involves strength and responsibility.

Each individual – as well as their family and community – have different strengths and responsibilities that can serve as the foundation for recovery. For example, individuals in recovery have a personal responsibility for their own self-care, while families have the responsibility to support their loved ones. Communities are responsible for removing barriers to treatment and fostering inclusion for those in recovery.

  1. Recovery is based on respect.

Lastly, SAMHSA states that recovery requires a sense of respect and acceptance. Society needs to accept and appreciate those affected by mental health disorders. Self-acceptance and self-respect are also important for developing a positive and meaningful sense of identity, and believing in one’s self to reach a life in recovery.

The above principles of recovery are meant to serve as a guide for those in the midst of overcoming a mental health or substance use disorder, as well as for those who are just beginning the recovery process. They are also intended to serve as reminders for treatment professionals, support groups, communities, and families who are connected to those in recovery. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) recaps their guiding principles of recovery by stating: 

“Hope, the belief that these challenges and conditions can be overcome, is the foundation of recovery. A person’s recovery is built on his or her strengths, talents, coping abilities, resources, and inherent values. It is holistic, addresses the whole person and their community, and is supported by peers, friends, and family members.

The process of recovery is highly personal and occurs via many pathways. It may include clinical treatment, medications, faith-based approaches, peer support, family support, self-care, and other approaches. Recovery is characterized by continual growth and improvement in one’s health and wellness and managing setbacks. Because setbacks are a natural part of life, resilience becomes a key component of recovery.”

If you are interested in learning more about the principles of recovery, or helping your loved one recover from a mental illness or substance addiction, you may always contact Turnbridge for support. Turnbridge is a recognized mental health treatment provider helping adolescents and young adults establish a sustainable and lasting recovery. Learn more by calling 877-581-1793.