Real benefits of recovery

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South Pacific Private’s survey on addiction recovery reveals dramatic benefits

Following a 2012 US survey of people in recovery to measure the changes from the time of active substance abuse to recovery, South Pacific Private conducted a similar research project in 2013 – and revealed strikingly similar outcomes.

Some of the key statistics that emerged clearly in the US survey, which was carried out by recovery advocacy organisation Faces and Voices of Recovery (FAVOR), indicated that addiction recovery is associated with dramatic personal improvements in all areas of life and also that there are definitive long-term benefits that impact society. This survey documented that investing in recovery not only makes sense, but is actually critical to the health of the nation.

The Australian pilot to capture the recovery experiences of the Australian population was carried out by a group of researchers at Turning Point (part of Eastern Health) in conjunction with South Pacific Private. The Australian researchers wanted to know whether the implications of the US survey might be true of the Australian recovery demographic. They approached FAVOR and with their support began to determine how this survey might fit in the Australian context. The outcome was that a total of 573 surveys were completed and respondents represented a broad range of individual characteristics, recovery durations and life histories.

The preliminary findings of the Australian pilot too show that the long-term benefits of recovery reverberate widely. The scope of impact includes the legal and health systems and welfare services as well as the overall mental health of our nation. This survey documented a cross-section of the recovery population in Australia in terms of the many costs of active addiction to the individual and to society. Notably, it also documented the dramatic improvements people experience once they are in addiction recovery.

Here are some of the early key statistical indicators of the Australian pilot:

  • Marked improvements in financial situation signified by; paying bills on time, paying taxes, etc
  • Dramatic reduction in incidences of family violence (from around half of participants during active addiction to less than 10 per cent in recovery)
  • Clear improvements in self-care activities such as GP visits, regular dental check-ups, improved diet and nutrition and regular exercise
  • 90 per cent reduction in imprisonment as well as dramatic reductions in offences such as driving under the influence (82.9 per cent reduced to fewer than 5 per cent)

Some of the significant findings about recovery in the US study included:

  • Involvement in illegal acts (in recovery) decreases by about ten-fold
  • Steady employment in recovery increases by over 50 per cent greater relative to active addiction
  • Frequent use of costly Emergency Room departments decreases ten-fold
  • Planning for the future increases nearly three-fold
  • Involvement in domestic violence decreases dramatically
  • Reports of untreated emotional/mental health problems decrease over four-fold.
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