The Role of Treatment in Recovery


"Tears of a Clown," Whitfield
Though no one can go back
and make a brand new start,
anyone can start from now
and make a brand new ending.
                             —Carl Bard

Treatment is a therapeutic process to reduce or eliminate the symptoms and side effects of mental illness or substance abuse through direct observation, assessment, examination and therapeutic intervention.

Characteristics of treatment: 

  • requires professional licensed or certified staff
  • screening
  • clinical assessment
  • diagnostic evaluation
  • treatment and discharge planning
  • service planning
  • clinical intervention
  • medication prescription and clinical monitoring
  • group and individual therapy


Recovery is a personal, unique process of changing one’s attitudes, values, feelings, goals as one infuses new meanings and purpose in one’s life as one deals with the effects of mental illness or substance abuse. It is a way of living a satisfying, hopeful, and contributing life even with the limitations caused by a mental illness or substance abuse issue. Recovery is a consumer-driven process in which consumers are able to work, learn, and participate fully in their communities. Recovery is the ability to live a fulfilling and productive life despite a disability (President’s New Freedom Commission on Mental Health, Final Report).

Recovery emphasizes:

  • A holistic view of mental illness and substance use
  • Recovery from mental illness and substance use is achievable
  • Recovery can occur even though symptoms may reoccur
  • Recovery is not a single event or linear process-it involves periods of growth and setbacks, rapid change or little change
  • Individual choice and responsibility is at the heart of the recovery process
  • Though recovery is what consumers do themselves, it is assisted by the natural supports of a well-organized support system including peer support.
  • Consumers lead, control and exercise choice over and determine their own path of recovery by optimizing independence and control over resources to achieve a self-determined life. Recovery process is self-directed by the individual.
  • Recovery focuses on valuing and building on the multiple capacities, resiliencies, talents and inherent worth of individuals.
  • Hope is the catalyst of the recovery process. 

As a person who has mental illness or co-occurring disorders of mental illness and substance abuse begins the journey of recovery, treatment generally remains an integral part of his or her life. The person's relationship with his or her treatment and treatment providers, however, shifts in a most significant way. People in recovery take responsibility for their own lives and seeks ways to educate themselves so that they can make informed decisions about their own treatment.