Life in Recovery Survey


Faces & Voices first-ever nationwide survey of persons in recovery from addiction to alcohol and other drugs was conducted by Alexandre Laudet, PhD.  The survey documented dramatic improvements in all areas of life for people in recovery from addiction and documents the heavy costs of addiction to the individual and the nation. For the first time, it also 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 the nation annually.

The dramatic improvements associated with recovery affected all areas of life including a ten-fold decrease in involvement with the criminal justice system and the 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.

Well the many costs of active addition 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 or more.


  • 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 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%.

additional graphics in Life in Recovery report


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.