Operationalize Recovery

For too long the word “recovery” has been conflated with a length of time a person has not used AOD. With recovery messaging, we framed recovery not only by this process of abstaining, but also by what recovery means to us, and what it has enabled us to do. But I think that we have to dig deeper. We have to find ways to operationalize “recovery” to extol the benefits while also not placing a wall between us and people who use drugs. They are us, and we are them. And qute frankly, I am not here to tell you how to define recovery. But as a movement, as well as a cadre of professionals, we have to re-evaluate the way we measure recovery.

For instance, question using ”abstinence” as a litmus test. Can we all even agree on what “abstinence means?”

Continuous abstinence: not consuming the drug of choice during a specified period of time

Essentially abstinent: not consuming more than a specified amount of the drug over a period of time

Minimal abstinence: achieving a minimal period of recovery during a period of time

Point-in-time abstinence: not consuming the drug of choice at a single point in time (e.g., the past 30 days)

Complete abstinence: continuous abstinence from all alcohol and other drugs

Involuntary abstinence: enforced abstinence due to hospitalization or incarceration

Barometers such as improved functioning and recovery capital concepts may serve as better means to linguistically describe recovery in a way that does not stigmatize anyone.