What Is the Difference Between Treatment & Recovery?

What Is the Difference Between Treatment & Recovery?

It’s common to use the terms “treatment” and “recovery” interchangeably. However, these two words are very different when it comes to addiction. Whether you have struggled with addiction yourself or know someone who has had or currently has an addiction disorder, it’s important to have an understanding of the differences between these words. Knowing the subtle differences between treatment and recovery allows those battling and helping with addiction to construct a sobriety journey and a plan for moving forward.

What Is Addiction Treatment?

Addiction treatment, which is usually evidence-based, is designed to help people with addictions stop compulsively using and seeking drugs or other illicit substances. Since addiction is a disease, it technically CAN be treated with the right methods and motivation.
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Treatment methods always vary based on the individual and their needs. For example, if someone is young and suffering from an addiction to opioids, their  treatment methods may be completely different than someone who is older with a long-term dependence on alcohol. Treatment programs may include therapy, medications, or a combination of the two. The best programs usually entail a combination of therapies that are customized according to the patient and their type of addiction disorder.

Treatment is available in many forms, in various settings, and for different lengths of time. It will typically require being monitored for an extended period of time until the patient is able to successfully continue on their own without constant supervision and assistance.

Popular Methods of Addiction Treatment

There are many treatment methods that have been proven to inspire individuals to strive for sobriety. Here are some popular methods of addiction treatment:

  • Therapy. A majority of treatment methods require some sort of therapy. Therapies that are used to support those in addiction recovery include: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), contingency management, motivational enhancement therapy, family therapy, 12-step meetings, and more. Behavioral therapy, specifically, is intended to offer coping strategies and motivate people to maintain their sobriety. These therapies may also have specific objectives, such as teaching communication skills or parenting skills.
  • Medication. Certain medications are used to ease withdrawal symptoms or curb cravings. Medications that are typically used in addiction treatment include: methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone for opioids; patches and gum for nicotine; and disulfiram, acamprosate, and naltrexone for alcohol.

Once someone is receiving treatment, they can begin their addiction recovery journey.

What Is Addiction Recovery?

According to SAMHSA, recovery is “a process of change through which people improve their health and wellness, live self-directed lives, and strive to reach their full potential.” Basically, recovery is designed to help people change how their lives are going and make healthier decisions for themselves and others.

Because recovery is different for everyone who experiences it, it is hard to pinpoint exactly what it is like for each individual. While in recovery, people are in the process of resuming a “normal” lifestyle without drug use and abuse. Recovery provides the building blocks to move forward in your life: career counseling and resources, relationship management, and financial assistance.

Treatment vs. Recovery: What’s the Difference?

Essentially, treatment programs are used to help someone succeed along the way in their recovery journey. “Treatments” are the methods that professionals use to eliminate an addiction, whereas “recovery” is the experience that someone continuously goes through in order to improve their lives after they made the decision to stop using alcohol or drugs. So while treatment helps to stop the addiction, recovery changes your life moving forward. In summary, treatment is just the beginning of recovery. 

Your Personalized Recovery Journey

The treatment and recovery experiences will be different for everyone who goes through them, based on their specific addictions and personal needs. Both processes are very complex and require patience & sensitivity. For example, relapses are likely to occur during recovery. If they do, it does not mean that recovery has failed; it just means that you may have hit a roadblock along the way in your journey.

If you have any more questions about treatment and recovery, don’t hesitate to reach out to our team of substance abuse professionals.


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