It Begins with You

Recovery And Resilience > Definitions


The concept of recovery is one that has received significant attention in terms of creating an agreeable definition. At one time, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) had separate definitions for “recovery” based on whether it referred to someone with mental health or substance use issues. In 2010, behavioral health field leaders as well as people in recovery and other stakeholders set out to create a common definition for all (SAMHSA News Release, December 22, 2011). The current working definition of recovery is “a process of change through which individuals improve their health and wellness, live a self-directed life, and strive to reach their full potential.”


SAMHSA defines resilience as an individual’s ability to cope with adversity and adapt to challenges or change. Resilience develops over time and gives an individual the capacity not only to cope with life’s challenges but also to be better prepared for the next stressful situation. Optimism and the ability to remain hopeful are essential to resilience and the process of recovery.