What is Recovery?

The Betty Ford Institute Consensus Panel, Elsevier

February 2010

Although widely used, the lack of a standard definition for the term “recovery” has hindered public understanding and research that might foster more and better recovery-oriented interventions. To this end, a group of interested researchers, treatment providers, recovery advocates, and policy makers was convened by the Betty Ford Institute to develop an initial definition of recovery as a starting point for better communication, research, and public understanding. Recovery is defined as a voluntarily maintained lifestyle characterized by sobriety, personal health, and citizenship. This article presents the operational definitions, rationales, and research implications for each of the three elements of this definition.

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