Recovery and treatment


Many people recover from drug or alcohol problems.  However it is rarely as simple as just deciding one day to stop drinking or using. Recovery can be a long and winding road and navigating it can take a lot of patience for all concerned.

Many people have differing views on what recovery is but three useful definitions are:

  • “a voluntarily sustained control over substance use which maximises health and wellbeing and participation in the rights, roles and responsibilities of society” (UKDPC – Recovery Consensus Statement –  2008)
  • “a process of change through which individuals improve their health and wellness, live a self-directed life, and strive to reach their full potential” (SAMHSA – 2011)
  • “a lived experience of improved life quality and a sense of empowerment; …the principles of recovery focus on the central ideas of hope, choice, freedom and aspiration”. (RSA – The Potential of Recovery Capital)


There are different approaches to treatment for different substances. We would always recommend speaking to your GP as a first step. If you would like to look for specialist help for drug or alcohol use have a look on our ‘You and your loved one’ page.

The treatment services should involve you and work with you too as you support your loved one.

A useful model to help understand the process of recovery is known as the ‘cycle of change’. This is explained below, along with some of the best ways to support your loved one at each stage of the journey.