On being “in recovery”: A national study of prevalence and correlates of adopting or not adopting a recovery identity among individuals resolving drug and alcohol problems.

The concept of recovery has become an organizing paradigm in the addiction field globally. Although a convenient label to describe the broad phenomena of change when individuals resolve significant alcohol or other drug (AOD) problems, little is known regarding the prevalence and correlates of adopting such an identity. Greater knowledge would inform clinical, public health, and policy communication efforts. We conducted a cross-sectional nationally representative survey (N = 39,809) of individuals resolving a significant AOD problem (n = 1,995). Weighted analyses estimated prevalence and tested correlates of label adoption. Qualitative analyses summarized reasons for prior recovery identity adoption/nonadoption. The proportion of individuals currently identifying as being in recovery was 45.1%, never in recovery 39.5%, and no longer in recovery 15.4%. Predictors of identifying as being in recovery included formal treatment and mutual-help participation, and history of being diagnosed with AOD or other psychiatric disorders. Qualitative analyses regarding reasons for no/prior recovery identity found themes related to low AOD problem severity, viewing the problem as resolved, or having little difficulty of stopping. Despite increasing use of the recovery label and concept, many resolving AOD problems do not identify in this manner. These appear to be individuals who have not engaged with the formal or informal treatment systems. To attract, engage, and accommodate this large number of individuals who add considerably to the AOD-related global burden of disease, AOD public health communication efforts may need to consider additional concepts and terminology beyond recovery (e.g., “problem resolution”) to meet a broader range of preferences, perspectives and experiences. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2018 APA, all rights reserved)