Without question the primary goal of treatment for substance use disorders is abstinence. However, there are more factors than that when determining the quality of life and truly defining recovery. Recovery is a personal thing, and not everyone does it the same way, so it cannot really be defined in a single way, either.
Outcomes measurements are necessary ways to determine effectiveness of treatment, and at the same time there is no industry standard of what all is important to be measured and how it is counted. For example, success in recovery isn’t just a zero or a one (using/not using), because there are so many variables for each individual.
Some may question a person’s sobriety if they’re still using certain types of medications. Others count a single use as not being a success, or tag those people as “relapsed.” Neither of these scenarios automatically fit today’s ever-changing landscape of treatment options, research and recovery methods.
This is why we believe that when someone is looking to define success or outcomes measurements, there can be a sliding scale, and that overall quality of life is actually one of the biggest determining factors, because on the other end, there can also be people who are completely sober, yet still very much struggling with life.
Who Defines Recovery?
What if someone was a heavy user before but now drinks socially without any problems? What if a former opioid user is now taking buprenorphine or methadone daily? If these people are healthy, happy, working, being responsible, participating in their community, present for their families and generally doing well, then saying they are not “clean” is doing a disservice to those individuals and their respective treatment and recovery paths.
At Centered Recovery, overall quality of life is one of our biggest goals. We find that participants who become fully engaged are able to find a new understanding and awareness of themselves, others and the world around them. This not only reduces or removes their desire to use something habitually, but inherently improves their relationships, abilities and circumstances in life. There is a great article on the National Library of Medicine called The Case for Considering Quality of Life in Addiction Research and Clinical Practice by Alexandre B. Laudet, Ph.D. that has a ton of corresponding and supportive evidence here.
Too often people and programs are brow-beaten into conformity and told “this is the way it must be done,” and sometimes we have to stand up for what we know is right, that there are as many ways to recover as there are people seeking help. People who are well informed about their options and who feel their chosen paths are going to work for them have a better chance at success than someone who is resistant to a “best practices” method.
If you are seeking a kind of treatment and recovery program that doesn’t just think outside the box, but knows the box doesn’t even really exist, contact your local Centered Recovery Program today. If there isn’t one close by yet, there will be in the near future.