Recovery Should Heal the Whole Person

Recovery | Lakehouse Recovery Center

Historically, recovery was pretty simple: put a person through detox and keep them sober. Period. Sometimes it worked, but most often sobriety didn’t last. Instead, there was relapse after relapse and that person might have never truly recovered. However, over the past few decades, there has been significant research on sobriety and what a person needs to recover.

For instance, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has found that sobriety needs to address all aspects of a person’s life for it to be successful. Not only does a person need to get sober, but they may also need one or more of the following:

Getting Sober Isn’t The Only Factor to Get Better

  • therapy
  • psychiatric services
  • housing
  • vocational rehabilitation
  • medical care
  • community
  • hope
  • support groups
  • learning new life skills
  • hygiene care
  • emotional care and support
  • education on addiction and how to recover
  • support with changing unhealthy thoughts and beliefs
  • education on nutrition and healthy eating
  • exercise


SAMHSA believes in a whole person approach to recovery in order to address any issues in a person’s life that may be contributing to addiction. If recovery is not addressing a person’s lack of housing, for example, the stress of not having a place to live may contribute to a relapse. For this reason, it’s important that a person feels safe and stable along with working toward their sobriety. If they do not, they are at risk for relapse.

To communicate the importance of addressing all facets of a person’s life, use these principles.

SAMHSA Identified the Following 12 Principles of Recovery:

  1. There are many pathways to recovery.
  2. Recovery is self-directed and empowering.
  3. Recovery involves a personal recognition of the need for change and transformation.
  4. Recovery is holistic.
  5. Recovery has cultural dimensions.
  6. Recovery exists on a continuum of improved health and wellness.
  7. Recovery emerges from hope and gratitude.
  8. Recovery involves a process of healing and self-redefinition.
  9. Recovery involves addressing discrimination and transcending shame and stigma.
  10. Recovery is supported by peers and allies.
  11. Recovery involves (re)joining and (re)building a life in the community.
  12. Recovery is a reality.

Eliminating the drugs and/or alcohol in a person’s body without any other recovery support and expecting them to stay sober is unrealistic. For this reason, recovery that is holistic in nature is seen to be the most effective for a successful recovery from addiction. However, it should be noted that some drug treatment organizations don’t provide all the services a person needs.

Because of this a recovering addict (and/or family and friends) need to ensure that treatment is addressing all the factors that may have been contributing to addiction. When all of the following are addressed, a person has a greater chance of staying sober:

  • unresolved trauma
  • mental illness
  • homelessness
  • medical conditions
  • job/income source
  • emotional well being
  • spiritual connection
  • intellectual growth
  • nutrition and health

If you or someone you know is struggling in their sobriety, contact a mental health provider for assistance. It is always better to get professional help versus putting a person at risk for relapse.


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