University of Iowa
SCIENCE OF RECOVERY: Flash Session
What Does Recovery Mean? How Definitions Are Different and Similar across Recovery
Although only a minority of people with alcohol use disorder (AUD) receive treatment, the majority of them will eventually resolve their problem. This phenomenon of independent recovery has long been recognized, but many knowledge gaps remain. To better understand the range of recovery pathways, and in turn to develop more effective recovery supports, we undertook a national online survey of adults with resolved AUD (n=1492), assessing their recovery definitions using Kaskutas and colleagues’ 39-item What Is Recovery (WIR) scale. We analyzed responses across three pathways: treated recovery (any use of specialty services, such as in-patient or out-patient rehabilitation), assisted recovery (any use of mutual-help groups and no use of specialty services), and independent recovery (no use of specialty services or mutual help groups). We found no significant differences between the treated and assisted recovery groups in their endorsement of any recovery element. In contrast, the independent recovery group differed significantly, typically showing lower endorsement of recovery elements than the treated and assisted recovery groups. Seven items from the WIR scale received very high levels of endorsement across in all groups, suggesting some comment elements across all recovery pathways.