In November of 2014, the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs published findings from the first nationwide study on the definition of “recovery” from substance use disorders.

First, the investigative team reviewed papers, reports, and websites related to recovery and substance use to craft an online survey.  Using Craigslist ads and alumni of six treatment and recovery centers, the researchers gathered data about each participant’s definition of recovery and analyzed their results.

The six elements endorsed most as definitely belonging in participants’ definition of recovery were “being honest with myself,” “handling negative feelings without using drugs or alcohol,” “being able to enjoy life without drinking or using drugs like I used to,” “a process of growth and development,” “reacting to life’s ups and downs in a more balanced way than I used to,” and “taking responsibility for the things I can change.” The recovery element that was included least often in each participant’s definition of recovery was “recovery is spiritual in nature and has nothing to do with religion.”

To read the full text of the published article, click here.


CBAM is a multidisciplinary center that seeks to advance the prevention and treatment of chronic illnesses, especially in communities with health disparities. As part of the UCLA Department of Family Medicine, CBAM works at the intersection of academia and community with a focus on treating addictions and preventing the spread of HIV.

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