Addiction recovery: Its definition and conceptual boundaries
The addiction field's failure to achieve consensus on a definition of “recovery” from severe and persistent alcohol and other drug problems undermines clinical research, compromises clinical practice, and muddles the field's communications to service constituents, allied service professionals, the public, and policymakers. This essay discusses 10 questions critical to the achievement of such a definition and offers a working definition of recovery that attempts to meet the criteria of precision, inclusiveness, exclusiveness, measurability, acceptability, and simplicity. The key questions explore who has professional and cultural authority to define recovery, the defining ingredients of recovery, the boundaries (scope and depth) of recovery, and temporal benchmarks of recovery (when recovery begins and ends). The process of defining recovery touches on some of the most controversial issues within the addictions field.