Reasons to Be Cheerful: Personal, Civic, and Economic Achievements After Resolving an Alcohol or Drug Problem in the United States Population
Alcohol and other drug (AOD) use disorders impose a prodigious personal and societal burden. While most remit, little is known about the achievements accrued as people accomplish and sustain addiction recovery. Greater knowledge regarding the nature and prevalence of such achievements, when such achievements occur, what factors influence accrual of achievements, and how such achievements relate to other indices of functioning would support treatment and policy planning, and may instill hope for individuals and families seeking AOD problem resolution.
Nationally representative, cross-sectional survey of United States (US) population of persons who have overcome an AOD problem (N = 2,002), assessing individual factors and achievements in 4 domains: self-improvement; family engagement; civic, and economic participation. Logistic and linear regression models tested theorized associations among variables.
Most (80.1%) achieved at least one achievement associated with the 4 domains. A linear monotonic relationship was observed with greater achievements accruing with greater time in recovery. Accrual of achievements after AOD problem resolution was related to racial minority status, more education, earlier age of substance use initiation, illicit drugs as primary substance used, more years since resolving AOD problem, more psychiatric diagnoses, lower psychological distress, and regular 12-step program attendance. Multiple regression analyses found greater total achievements were independently associated with greater self-esteem, happiness, quality of life, and recovery capital.
Most individuals achieve an increasing number of achievements with time since AOD problem resolution, and these are associated with gains in measures of well-being that may support ongoing AOD problem remission, and recovery.
Public Health Significance Statement
The majority of people in the U.S. who have overcome an alcohol and other drug problem report achievements related to self-improvement, family engagement, and civic and economic participation since resolving their substance use issue. These achievements accumulate with time in recovery, and are associated with greater self-esteem, happiness, quality of life, and recovery capital.
Research in context
Authors David Eddie and John Kelly say that Around 75% of people seeking recovery from a substance use problem achieve their goal, though it may take them some time to achieve full remission. The average number of attempts before success is five, though the median number is just two. This means that a small number of outliers – usually individuals with the greatest addiction severity and other concomitant mental health issues – who need five-plus attempts, inflate the numbers, making them look worse than they are.
This study found that recovery is real and that people who recover go on to do well in various domains in life.
- According to this study, 22.3 million Americans or 9% of U.S. adults at the time of the study have overcome an alcohol or drug use problem. This is 1 in 10 American adults. Which shows that recovery is not only possible, but common.
- The authors also saw significant improvements in quality of life and a decrease in psychological distress over time in recovery. This shows that people and their lives get better after resolving a substance use problem.
- Further, 80% of people who had overcome an alcohol or other drug problem accomplished at least one major achievement associated with self-improvement and family engagement .
- More years in recovery were associated with an increasing number of achievements.
- Starting early appears to be one key to better recovery outcomes.
At the end of the day, addiction is a highly treatable disorder from which the majority of people eventually recover. And our recent study shows that in spite of numerous legal and social barriers, most individuals in addiction recovery go on to rejoin society and contribute to it in numerous meaningful ways,” said David Eddie and John Kelly, authors of the study as per Stat News.David Eddie and John Kelly, authors of the study