Addiction is a chronic, progressive, self-perpetuating disease that profoundly diminishes individual, family and community well-being. Drug abuse costs the U.S. economy hundreds of billions of dollars in increased healthcare costs, crime and lost productivity. Addiction does respond to treatment, but our medical-model approach is merely effective at creating abstinence. Relapse rates during and soon after treatment remain stubbornly high.
Interrupting addiction does not build “recovery.”In fact, abstinence is only a small part of recovery. When we’re successful in treating addicts, it’s because we’re helping them to feel better, have deeper, more nurturing relationships with others, and to be there for themselves.
That’s what the positive recovery construct is all about. Lasting recovery demands a rich and full lifestyle that makes abstinence sustainable. By applying evidence-based strategies borrowed from positive psychology, such as keeping track of one’s blessings each day, we can help recovering addicts find that meaning, that joy, on which to rebuild their lives. We’re not talking about positive thinking. That’s not enough. What we do, more than anything else, is what alters the brain. Habit reinforces pathways of behaving because it makes subsequent repetition easier. Breaking free from addiction requires intention, concentration, courage, and action.