Life for people in recovery from addiction

The results from the first nationwide survey of persons in recovery from addiction to alcohol and other drugs was released by Faces & Voices of Recovery. For the first time, a study measures and quantifies the effects of recovery over time. The survey documents the heavy costs of addiction to the individual and the nation. Let’s explore this further.

During their active addiction, 50 percent of respondents had been fired or suspended once or more from jobs, 50 percent had been arrested at least once and a third had been incarcerated at least once.

Why do we care about this data? Because it shows addiction contributes to a total societal cost of $343 billion to our nation annually.

More than 23 million Americans are in recovery from addiction in the United States. The improvements associated with recovery includes a ten-fold decrease in involvement with the criminal justice system and the use of costly emergency room visits. We’re seeing a 50-percent increase in participation in family activities and about as much as that percentage in increased taxes being paid.

Of course, not all is rosy. Persons recovering from addictions face discrimination in housing, employment and health insurance coverage. These barriers are tremendous obstacles to someone who is trying to put their lives back together. Many have alienated their families, so they won’t (can’t?) turn to them for help while they regain their health and dignity. Housing is one of the most basic needs, and so elusive to many trying to find employment to pay rent or pay back the people to whom they owe money.

It is easy to sit in our recliners and pass judgment on those who took that first drink or let a friend “help” them with a pill to make them feel better. It isn’t easy being friends with a person with an addiction, but it’s so rewarding when you’re part of their recovery.

Do you know someone who needs some help? Perhaps it’s just guiding them to an agency that can offer hope. If you want to read more about this study, you can at

The Mental Health and Recovery Services Board of Seneca, Sandusky and Wyandot Counties is committed to sharing information and resources for better mental health and the prevention of substance abuse. If you would like more information, please call the Mental Health and Recovery Services Board of Seneca, Sandusky and Wyandot Counties at (419) 448-0640 between the hours of 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., weekdays. The board’s hotline is available 24/7 at (800) 826-1306.

Nancy Cochran,

executive director