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Life in Recovery Survey
First-Ever Nationwide Survey Documents Dramatic Improvements in All Areas of Life For People In Recovery From Addiction
Study highlights the critical need for removal of discriminatory barriers to people with addiction and fighting for recovery - costing nation $343 Billion a year
The results from the first nationwide survey of persons in recovery from addiction to alcohol and other drugs released today by Faces & Voices of Recovery documents the heavy costs of addiction to the individual and the nation and for the first time, measures and quantifies the effects of recovery over time. During their active addiction, 50 percent of respondents had been fired or suspended once or more from jobs, 50 percent had been arrested at least once and a third had been incarcerated at least once, contributing to a total societal cost of $343 billion to our nation annually.*
There are over 23 million Americans in recovery from addiction in the US. The dramatic improvements associated with recovery affected all areas of life including a ten-fold decrease in involvement with the criminal justice system and use of costly emergency room departments and a 50 percent increase in participation in family activities and in paying taxes compared with their lives in active addiction. Yet, discriminatory practices in housing, employment, health insurance coverage and elsewhere remain tremendous barriers to recovery.
"It's time to take action to end discrimination facing people in or seeking recovery from addiction. As this survey from Faces & Voices documents, recovery benefits everyone," said former Congressman Patrick Kennedy.
"This survey documents, for the first time ever, that investing in recovery makes sense. When we get the help and support that we need, we are employed, pay bills and taxes, vote, volunteer in our communities and take care of our health and families," said Faces & Voices board chair Dona Dmitrovic. "We call on states and the Congress to reform drug policy by addressing and removing discriminatory barriers; ensuring access to and financing for a full range of health care and other services to support Americans in initiating and sustaining their recovery, and to invest in research to identify quality and cost-effective recovery-promoting policies and practices."
While the many costs of active addiction are well documented, very little is known about the changes in key life areas as a function of entering and sustaining recovery, or when they occur. The survey measures and quantifies the recovery experience over time - Less than 3 years; 3 to 10 years; and 10 years and more.
"These research findings are a call to action to policy makers and the public," said Dmitrovic. "Life keeps getting better as recovery progresses."
ADDICTION RECOVERY IS ASSOCIATED WITH DRAMATIC IMPROVEMENTS IN ALL AREAS OF LIFE
- Involvement in illegal acts and involvement with the criminal justice system (e.g., arrests, incarceration, DWIs) decreases by about ten-fold
- Steady employment in addiction recovery increases by over 50% greater relative to active addiction
- Frequent use of costly Emergency Room departments decreases ten-fold
- Paying bills on time and paying back personal debt doubles
- Planning for the future (e.g., saving for retirement) increases nearly three-fold
- Involvement in domestic violence (as victim or perpetrator) decreases dramatically
- Participation in family activities increases by 50%
- Volunteering in the community increases nearly three-fold compared to in active addiction
- Voting increases significantly
- Reports of untreated emotional/mental health problems decrease over four-fold
- Twice as many participants further their education or training than in active addiction
THE BENEFITS OF ADDICTION RECOVERY OVER TIME
- The percentage of people owing back taxes decreases as recovery gets longer while a greater number of people in longer recovery report paying taxes, having good credit, making financial plans for the future and paying back debts
- Civic involvement increases dramatically as recovery progresses in such areas as voting and volunteering in the community
- People increasingly engage in healthy behaviors such as taking care of their health, having a healthy diet, getting regular exercise and dental checkups, as recovery progresses
- As recovery duration increases, a greater number of people go back to school or get additional job training
- Rates of steady employment increase gradually as recovery duration increases
- More and more people start their own business as recovery duration increases
- Participation in family activities increases from 68% to 95%
The complete survey results are available in pdf format here.
Survey findings and recommendations, click here.
Life in Recovery Survey Results as Graphic Charts, click on the graphs for larger view.
ABOUT THE SURVEY
The online survey was developed, conducted and analyzed in collaboration with Alexandre Laudet, Ph.D., Director of the Center for the Study of Addictions and Recovery at the National Development and Research Institutes, Inc. It was conducted between November 1 and December 31, 2012 and collected information on 3,228 participants' sociodemographics, physical/mental health, substance use, and recovery history, and 44 items representing experiences and indices of functioning in work, finances, legal, family, social and citizenship domains.
*Substance Abuse Prevention Dollars and Cents: A Cost-Benefit Analysis, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
ABOUT FACES & VOICES OF RECOVERY
Faces & Voices of Recovery is organizing the over 23 million Americans in recovery from addiction to alcohol and other drugs, their families, friends and allies in a campaign to end discrimination; broaden social understanding; and achieve a just response to addiction as a public health crisis.