What’s life in recovery like?

Back over the summer Sheffield Hallam University ran a survey which I took part in and encouraged you to also.  They were looking at what life was like in recovery and they’ve now published their findings.

life in recoveryI’ve chosen this image as this is what life is like in recovery for me because it isn’t just about giving up booze.  All of these changes I think and feel are positive both to me and those around me as I have become more pleasant to be around now I’m not chasing a drink or mired in a hangover!

These were their findings:

First National UK survey of addiction recovery experiences

Professor David Best and colleagues from Sheffield Hallam University in partnership with Action on Addiction have conducted the first national UK Life in Recovery survey.

The survey was based on similar surveys undertaken in the US and Australia and was successful in getting 802 completed survey responses.

The respondents were almost equally men (53%) and women (47%) with 90% living in England. Interestingly, three quarters of the respondents were aged 40 years or older, perhaps reflecting the time it takes to recover from addiction, but also the fact that 74% survey respondents were primarily dependent on alcohol. Dependent alcohol users tend to enter treatment later than dependent drug users.

The survey is a comprehensive tool which asked people in recovery about their:

  • Relationships, education and employment
  • Health and well-being
  • Primary addiction profile
  • Recovery status
  • Engagement in treatment and mutual aid
  • Finances
  • Family and social life
  • Criminal justice involvement

Findings

Some of the findings which I found most interesting were:

  • The average length of time respondents had been addicted was 20.4 years
  • The average length of time this group had been in recovery was 8.3 years
  • Women tended to have shorter addiction “careers” (17.7 vs 22.4 years) and to start their recovery journeys at a younger age (37.2 vs 39.2 years)
  • Almost two thirds of respondents (65%) considered themselves in recovery while 7% saw themselves as having recovered.
  • 70% people had attended at least one 12-step recovery meeting
  • 69% had received specialist treatment
  • 51% had received medication to help with their addiction
  • The increasing use of online recovery resources with a total of 254 people having ever participated in an online recovery group (46 people were actively using SMART Recovery, 33 NA and 29 AA online)
  • 124 individuals had used an addiction recovery app (almost a quarter of those who had ever owned a smartphone)

Conclusions

The authors are recovery advocates and their conclusions focus on the positive consequences of recovery:

  • Marked reductions in children being taken into care and clear net benefits in terms of family reunifications, particularly among those stable in their recovery journeys;
  • Rates of domestic violence dropping from 39% in active addiction to less than 7% in recovery;
  • Increased employability with 74% of those in recovery reporting that they have remained steadily employed and 70% reporting that they pay taxes, repay debts and have credit ratings restored during recovery; and
  • Much reduced arrest and prison rates following the start of recovery and increasing disengagement associated with longer recovery duration.

The authors’ final conclusion notes that recovery is not just about stopping negative behaviour; it is also about making a positive contribution and engaging in society:

79.4% of survey participants reported having volunteered in community or civic groups since the start of their recovery journeys.

I think this is a fantastic result that shows that there are LOTS of us out here with long stretches of sobriety – the average respondent having 8 years!  Plus lots of us doing it online and increasingly so 😉  And giving back in the process 🙂 Come join us!

What did you think of the findings?

8 thoughts on “What’s life in recovery like?

  1. I dug out the full survey and skim-read it – really interesting and valuable, thanks for going through it here. one thing I also really liked was their statement they made of the following: ‘recovery is attainable, is sustainable and is beneficial to a range of individuals and groups.’

    attainable and sustainable – such a powerful statement! but they also stressed the importance of peer support, which I have certainly found vital. this is too hard to do on our own – but we can do it with others! xx

  2. Ditto with Prim. I’d be lost without the continued love and support of my peers. Life is happening post-drinking. I remain vigilant to the little things like community and sharing with integrity.
    I’m going to re-read these stats, however a big thumbs up on the 7 things to give up. Brilliant. Blessings for the new year. Lis

    1. Hey Lisa Blessings for the new year to you too and thank you for your continued support 🙂

  3. Dependent alcohol users tend to enter treatment later than dependent drug users. This line caught my attention; is this because alcohol abuse is seen as more “normal” I wonder? Very encouraging to see more people are embracing online support, don’t know where I’d be without it 🙂 xx

    1. I think you’re right Lori going by the amount of booze consumed over the last 3 days that I’ve witnessed is anything to go by!! xx

  4. Hi Lucy!
    The findings make sense.
    At least that is what I see/hear in my 12 step groups.
    The on-line community is so helpful for me and adds another layer of accountability and support.
    I think I was dependent for 15 years.
    Just about every area of my life is better not drinking. That is also what I see/hear in groups.
    xo
    Wendy

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