‘Life in Recovery’ – Research by Alexandre Laudet and FAVOR

2007_0116walpole0025Alexandre Laudet is one of the world’s leading recovery researchers. During the past year, she has been conducting – in collaboration with Faces & Voices of Recovery (FAVOR) in America – the first nationwide survey of people in recovery from addiction to alcohol and other drugs.

Here is what Alexandre and FAVOR set out to do, as described in their report:

‘“Recovery” from addiction to alcohol and other drugs is a human experience as old as the human race itself. However, it was not until the past decade that federal agencies, policy makers, service providers, and clinicians have begun considering recovery as a desirable outcome that is gradually supplanting mere reductions in drug and alcohol use as the goal of addiction treatment services.

This shift in emphasis was in no small part spearheaded by a growing grassroots movement of persons in recovery, a community recently estimated at over 23.5 million adults in the United States i.e., 10% of U.S. adults, their families, friends, and allies.

In spite of this number, little is known about the recovery experience as research on this population, often hidden in plain sight, remains in its infancy. With full implementation of the Affordable Care Act in sight, and given its emphasis on health and wellness, services and supports that make it possible for people to sustain their recovery for the long term are of growing importance.

As a first step to documenting the benefits of recovery to the individual and to the nation, Faces & Voices of Recovery (Faces & Voices) conducted the first nationwide survey of persons in recovery from alcohol and other drug problems.

The survey was developed, conducted, and analyzed in collaboration with Alexandre Laudet, Ph.D., Director of the Center for the Study of Addictions and Recovery at the National Development and Research Institutes, Inc.

The online survey, conducted in English and Spanish between November 1 and December 31, 2012, collected information on participants’ sociodemographics, physical/mental health, substance use, and recovery history, and 44 items representing experiences and indices of functioning in work, finances, legal, family, social, and citizenship domains; the items were asked for both “in active addiction” and “since you entered recovery.”

A total of 3,228 surveys were completed. Respondents represented a broad range of individual characteristics and recovery durations. On average, participants had been in active addiction for 18 years and entered recovery at age 36. Over half had been in recovery for 10 years or longer at the time of the survey.’

And here is a brief description of what they found and their conclusions:

‘Survey findings document the many costs of active addiction to the individual and to society in terms of health, finances, work, family life, and criminal justice involvement.

Most notably, the survey is the first to document the dramatic improvements people experience in all areas of life once they are in addiction recovery, and that improvements continue over time as recovery is maintained.

Contrary to the stigmatizing stereotype society has of the individual in active addiction or recovery, survey findings show that people in recovery are employed, pay bills and taxes, vote, volunteer in their communities, and take care of their health and their families.

These findings underline the fact that recovery is good not only for the individual, but also for families, communities, and the nation’s health and economy.

The findings emphasize the call for policies, services, and funding to help more people initiate and sustain recovery, and for additional research to identify effective and cost-effective recovery-promoting policies and services.’

Please check out the full report of this ground-breaking research to see the detailed benefits of recovery to individuals, families and society.