Adapted from the National Consensus Statement on Mental Health Recovery from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration within the US Department of Health and Human Services
Recovery is a term that can be defined in many different ways. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration defines ten fundamental components of recovery:
The individual decides for his/herself to seek recovery and actively searches for it.
Individualized and Person-Centered
The way to recovery that an individual chooses will be unique to that person’s strengths, needs, experiences, and cultural backgrounds.
The individual has the ability to speak for him/herself about what he/she needs, wants, and aspires. The person has control over their own future.
Recovery covers all aspects of a person’s life. Areas include mind, body, spirit, and community. This can include: housing, employment, education, mental health and healthcare treatment and services, complementary and naturalistic services, addiction treatment, spirituality, creativity, social networks, community participation, and family supports. Families, providers, organizations, systems communities and society play crucial roles in creating and maintaining meaningful opportunities for consumer access to these supports.
Recovery does not always happen in a consistent step by step basis. There is continual growth, occasional setbacks, and learning from experience. Recovery begins when a person realizes positive change is possible. This helps the individual move on to fully participate in the recovery process.
Recovery focuses on building on the multiple capacities, resiliencies, talents, coping abilities, and inherent worth of individuals. Building on such strengths gives the person the ability to engage in new relationships and interact with others in supportive, trust-based relationships.
Support through sharing experiences, knowledge, and skills with others going through recovery can help the individual as well as others by giving each other a sense of belonging, supportive relationships, a sense of value, and community.
Acceptance by the community, society, and systems, as well as appreciation of the individual – including protection of rights, elimination of discrimination and stigma – is a necessary step for recovery to take place. Regaining self-acceptance and personal belief in one’s self are also necessary. Respect means that the individual will be included and fully participate in all parts of his/her life.
Taking personal responsibility towards taking care of oneself and attaining goals is necessary for recovery. Individuals have to try to understand their experiences and recognize coping and healing methods to promote their own well-being.
The message of a better future – that people can overcome hardships that occur must be internalized. It is the motivation for recovery. It can be inspired by peers, families, friends, providers, and others.
You can live your life free from an eating disorder. Recovery is possible.
Sustained recovery requires careful planning, and a team approach. For many patients, that means utilizing the full continuum of care. Typically, recovery does not happen once, but takes place over years of mindful application of the lessons learned in treatment. In other words, care goes hand and hand with aftercare.
It can be challenging to re-enter into the environment that one’s eating disorder had previously developed. However, going back with a realistic treatment plan can help to facilitate the recovery process.
Trust your team. Follow their recommendations for when it is time to step down. It is important to not cut yourself off from support, even when you feel like things are going “fine.” Challenges will come up, and while you might have the skills to respond to them without eating disorder behavior it’s helpful to have a professional as “backup.” They will be able to help you create a plan that includes being aware of what may have triggered you in the past, and help you to work towards creating effective and healthy coping skills.
Stories of Hope
We’ve heard from so many people that, in their darkest hour, didn’t believe it was possible to ever be free from their eating disorder. Many of those people have now recovered. Our Stories of Hope highlight a wide range of stories from diverse individuals who have recovered from an eating disorder. You can check them out for inspiration or submit your own story to be considered for the collection. Learn more.
Want to talk with others who are in recovery from an eating disorder? Need some support from those working towards recovery? Our Forums include options for individuals firmly in recovery, as well as those who are working toward recovery, so that you can connect with others and get more of the social support you need. Learn more.
Recovery and Relapse Prevention
Find the resources and information you need to understand the recovery process and work to prevent relapsing from an eating disorder. These resources are meant to supplement the guidance you are receiving from your professional treatment team, but they are not a substitute for treatment. Learn more.