Being Empowered Through the Recovery Model


I’ve written frequently on my blog about movements and cultural models that have inspired me — the neurodiversity movement and the social model of disability, to name a few. Another movement that has been extremely helpful is the recovery model of mental illness.

The United States’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) defines recovery as “[a] process of change through which individuals improve their health and wellness, live a self-directed life, and strive to reach their full potential.” They state that this model should emphasize hope, address trauma issues, and be culturally respectful — as well as focused on a person’s strengths.

This is a far cry from the medical model, which looks at mental illness as a life-long deficit with very little hope for change. The recovery model sees relapse as a natural part of human growth, which was very comforting to me after years of thinking I was either on top of the world or completely impaired. Its focus on strengths and self-direction made me feel as though I could still have goals and make my own empowered choices in line with my values, despite my illness.

The recovery model benefits everyone, but especially disenfranchised folks who often have very little say in their care and about their provided services. I encourage anyone who is coping with substance abuse or mental health challenges to read more about it. The struggle is real, but so are your possibilities!

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