After a year-long collaborative effort, on Dec. 22, 2011 the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) released its new definition of “recovery." According to SAMHSA administrator Pamela S. Hyde it is "a significant milestone in promoting greater public awareness and appreciation for the importance of recovery, and widespread support for the services that can make it a reality for millions of Americans."
I applaud SAMHSA’s in this regard. Ever since “recovery’ entered the more general behavioral healthcare lexicon, it has confused many people, who may associate it exclusively with substance abuse treatment or 12-step programs.
I especially admire how the definition, below, relates recovery (consciously or unconsciously) to the three basic American values found in the United States Declaration of Independence.
"A process of change through which individuals improve their health and wellness, live a self-directed life, and strive to reach their full potential."
“improve their health and wellness” = Life
“live a self-directed life” = Liberty
“strive to reach their full potential” = Pursuit of happiness
These values can even be used to establish service priorities. First priority would be services such as crisis stabilization that prevent homicides and suicides. Second would be services that promote the use of the least restrictive environment and least intrusive services, and finally services that allow consumers to participate in society to the fullest extent possible.
Some may see this definition as nothing new, but of course, everything is derivative to some extent. And I think these associations are very positive features. It also has an honorable history. Back in the 1970’s the “Balanced Service System” (The Balanced Service System A Model of Personal and Social Integration by Ronald J. Gerhard, Richard E. Dorgan, and Donald G. Miles) elegantly used these three values to underpin the development of the first set of accreditation standards for community mental health centers for the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Hospitals
And of course, one can always do worse than paraphrasing Thomas Jefferson.