“Recovery introduced me to myself. The hardest but most rewarding journey I have ever undertaken.”
Recovery from alcohol and drug addiction is now widely recognised as a journey that takes place over time and in a multitude of ways that reflect personal circumstances, supports and resources. Recovery has been a highly contentious term in Australia and overseas as it has become increasingly prominent in policy discussions.
Yet, we still have relatively little evidence (particularly in Australia) about what the experiences are of people who have madethis transition in their lives.
The purpose of this current report is to summarise the findings of the first major Australian study on personal experiences of recovery and the contrast between what life was like as an addict compared to what life is like now in recovery.
To do this, we have built on work from the international recovery movement, using an adapted version of a method and a questionnaire that was distributed in the US.
In 2012, the US recovery advocacy organisation, Faces and Voices of Recovery (FAVOR) published the findings of an online survey of people in recovery to measure the changes in a range of aspects of their wellbeing from the time of their active use to their recovery. The survey was distributed online so that people could preserve their anonymity if they chose to and so the survey could be completed by both those ‘visible’ in their recovery journeys and those who did not want to be a visible recovery figure.
This is a critical way of examining the impact of recovery on people’s lives and there was a strong commitment to repeat this work in Australia, particularly given the opposition to the idea of recovery from a number of prominent clinical and policy figures. A study like this cannot tell us anything about how ‘typical’ these recovery journeys are but it can provide both a sense of hope and direction for those early in their recovery journey about what is possible and the basis for understanding, comparing and mapping recovery experiences across different groups and populations.
With the support and blessing of FAVOR, and encouragement and assistance from William White, the survey was amended to better meet the requirements of the Australian context, and an Australian version was piloted, developed and circulated through the networks of Turning Point and South Pacific Private.
The full survey results, policy recommendations and personal stories are available here to download.
For more information please call 02 9905 3667 and ask for PR.