It’s time to focus on recovery

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“Recovery introduced me to myself. The hardest but most rewarding journey I have ever undertaken”

By Claire Barber 

Recovery from alcohol and drug addiction is now widely recognised as a journey that takes place over time and in a multitude of ways that reflect personal circumstances, supports and resources. The public dialogue about alcohol and drug addiction centres on the problem addiction poses to society. However, to successfully solve the problem of addiction, we need to discuss and acknowledge the importance of treatment and recovery.

Addiction is a chronic, relapsing condition, yet people can and do recover. Until recently, we had relatively little evidence that could clearly indicate the benefits of recovery financially, physically, relationally or mentally.

The Australian ‘Life in Recovery’ Survey is the first survey of its kind that has evidenced these benefits. It has confirmed many things anecdotally assumed about the crippling effects of addiction and the transformative impact of recovery from addiction.

The Survey was undertaken by leading addiction treatment facility South Pacific Private and alcohol and drug treatment and research centre Turning Point. The survey of 573 current and recovered drug and alcohol addicts provided a startling contrast between living with addiction and life in recovery. It has shown the dramatic improvements across various aspects of an addict’s life once in recovery such as addicts who are in recovery are 40 per cent less likely to be involved in domestic violence than someone who is in active in their addiction.

The survey looked at the major areas of life and wellbeing including finance, family and social life, health, legal issues and work. The figures showed the severity that substance addiction has not just on an individual, but also on the community.

The data showed those in recovery were 75 per cent less likely to drive while under the influence, 40 per cent more likely to get involved in a community or civic group, 25 per cent more likely to pay taxes and 53 per cent less likely to miss school or work.

It is clear that policy makers need to recognise the key role recovery programs play in the initiation and sustainability of recovery journeys and how this benefits society.

The benefits for treating addiction rather than the symptoms impact far beyond the individual:

  • Those in recovery are 48% less likely to experience untreated mental health problems
  • Those in recovery are 24% less likely to frequently attend emergency departments
  • Those in recovery are 22% less likely to frequently use healthcare services

The story of recovery from addiction is only just starting to be told and there is still much work to be done. However, this report provides hope that recovery and a better life are possible for the many people suffering from the disease of addiction.

By Claire Barber

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