top of page

What does it mean to be ‘in recovery’? We need a better federal definition

“When I use a word,” one of 19th century British author and mathematician Lewis Carroll’s characters once said, “it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.”

Though he was a formidable philosopher and logician, Carroll likely would be stymied by the circular logic that justifies the definition of “recovery” currently used to support critical federal substance use disorder programs and activities. For more than a decade, the federal government has been using an imprecise, nebulous, and informally developed “working definition” of “recovery” to support critical federal substance use disorder programs. Ultimately, that imprecise definition may undermine rather than advance important national substance use disorder treatment and policy goals.


bottom of page