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Recovery is Real:  There is Hope

In addition to promoting mental health awareness, Nico’s Hope for Life believes in and fully supports the Recovery Process. Recovery is very individualized and looks different for different people, but there is a realization that true recovery from mental illness is attainable for everyone. To promote greater public awareness and the importance of recovery, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has given recovery a new definition as part of the Recovery Support Strategic Initiative. “Recovery is a process of change through which individuals improve their health and wellness, live a self-directed life, and strive to reach their full potential.” 

Through the Recovery Support Strategic Initiative, SAMHSA has outlined four major dimensions that support a life in recovery:

  • Health: overcoming or managing one’s disease(s) or symptoms as well as living in a physically and emotionally healthy way;

  • Home: having a stable and safe place to live;

  • Purpose: conducting meaningful daily activities, such as a job, school, volunteerism, family caretaking, or creative endeavors, and the independence, income, and resources to participate in society; and

  • Community: having relationships and social networks that provide support, friendship, love, and hope.


SAMHSA also set Guiding Principles of Recovery to reflect common elements of the recovery experience for those with mental disorders and/or substance use disorders:

1. Recovery emerges from HOPE
    The belief that recovery is real provides the essential and motivating message of a better future – that                people can and do overcome the internal and external challenges that confront them. Hope is internalized      and can be fostered by peers, families, providers, allies, and others. Hope is the catalyst of the recovery            process.

2. Recovery is Person-Driven 

    Self-determination and self-direction are the foundations for recovery as individuals set their own life goals      and design their unique path(s) toward those goals. Autonomy and independence are optimized by                    leading, controlling, and exercising choice over the services and supports that assist in their recovery and          resilience. In so doing, they are empowered and provided the resources to make informed decisions,                  initiate recovery, build on their strengths, and gain or regain control over their lives.


3. Recovery occurs via many Pathways 
    Individuals are unique with distinct needs, strengths, preferences, goals, culture, and backgrounds that              affect and determine their pathway to recovery. Recovery paths are highly individualized and may include        professional clinical treatment, medication, support from families and in schools, faith-based communities,      and others. Setbacks can occur at any part of the process and need to be met with resilience.

4. Recovery is Holistic 
    Recovery encompasses a person’s whole life, including mind, body, spirit, and community. This includes            addressing self-care practices, family, housing, employment, transportation, education, clinical treatment          for mental disorders, services and support, primary healthcare, dental care, spirituality, social networks,            and community participation. The array of services and supports available should be integrated and                  coordinated.

5. Recovery is supported by peers and allies 
    Mutual support and aid groups play an invaluable role in recovery. Peers encourage and engage other              peers while providing them with a vital sense of belonging, supportive relationships, valued roles, and                community. Through helping others and giving back to the community, one helps one’s self. Peer supports      for families are very important for children with behavioral health problems and can also play a supportive      role for youth in recovery.

6. Recovery is supported through relationship and social networks 
    An important factor in the recovery process is the presence of people who believe in the person’s ability to      recover; who offer hope, support, and encouragement; and who also suggest strategies and resources for        change. Through these relationships, people leave unhealthy and/or unfulfilling life roles behind and                engage in new roles that lead to a greater sense of belonging.

7. Recovery is culturally-based and influenced 
    Culture and cultural background in all of its diverse representations – including values, traditions, and                beliefs – are keys in determining a person’s journey to recovery. Services should be culturally grounded as        well as personalized to meet each individual’s needs.

8. Recovery is supported by addressing trauma 
    The experience of trauma (such as physical or sexual abuse, domestic violence, war, disaster, and others) is      often a precursor to or associated with alcohol and drug use, mental health problems, and related issues.        Services and support systems should be trauma-informed to foster safety and trust while promoting                  choice, empowerment, and collaboration.

9. Recovery involves individual, family, and community strengths and responsibility 
    Individuals, families, and communities have strengths and resources that serve as a foundation for                    recovery. In addition, individuals have a personal responsibility for their own self-care and journeys of                recovery. Individuals should be supported in speaking for themselves. Families and significant others have      responsibilities to support their loved ones, especially for children and youth in recovery. Communities              need to provide opportunities and resources to address discrimination and to promote social inclusion and      recovery.

10. Recovery is based on respect 
      Community, systems, and societal acceptance and appreciation for people affected by mental health and          substance use problems are crucial in achieving recovery. Steps taken toward recovery require great                  courage and need to be acknowledged. Self-acceptance, developing a positive and meaningful sense of            identity, and regaining belief in one’s self are particularly important.

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