The Role of Wellness in Recovery

Despite the recent focus on the numerous challenges related to substance use people do and can pursue a recovery journey living a full and productive life where they contribute to their family and their community. I know from decades of personal and professional experiences that Recovery is possible by focusing on wellness in the 8 dimensions.

Wellness for people living with a substance use challenge is defined as a conscious deliberate process of making choices daily for a more satisfying lifestyle.  The Wellness in the 8 Dimensions model has been adopted in the behavioral healthcare field, as it is a person-centered, strengths perspective.   The Wellness Model focuses on a person’s strengths and potentials in multiple dimensions (physical, mental, emotional, social, intellectual, environmental, occupational, and financial) and recognizes the inter-related connections among the dimensions.

The emphasis on a highly individualized and self-directed approach to increasing wellness behaviors is related to five key principles:

  • A person’s attitude and belief system influence feelings, thoughts, and behaviors.
  • Daily and weekly wellness habits and routines are a key focus.
  • Motivation is related to personal control, a focus on strengths, and good health.
  • Building internal motivation is essential to create and sustain wellness habits.
  • Supporters are essential for building and sustaining wellness habits and routines.

The key focus is on physical health habits and routines (sleep and rest, physical activity, managing stress, decreasing or eliminating harmful substances, preventing or managing medical conditions, etc.).  These self-care habits impact the other 7 wellness dimensions and other activities of daily living and functioning.  Helping to create a new set of wellness habits and routines is a key component for sobriety and recovery.   The Wellness Model is an importance framework for family supporters as well.

Figure 1: 8 Dimensions of Wellness

The New Jersey Peer Recovery telephone support line can help callers challenged by addiction to explore wellness strengths in the 8 dimensions. Peer support specialists are trained to help callers enhance:

Spiritual wellness: helping to engage in meaningful activities that provide a sense of purpose and connection to a supportive community.

Social wellness: linking to supporters who provide a positive connection and sense of belonging.

Intellectual wellness: helping to recognize creative abilities and find ways to expand knowledge and skills

Emotional wellness: by supporting use of effective coping skills for managing stress, and helping to establish or reestablish relationships with people who support sobriety.

Physical wellness: by reinforcing the importance of a balanced routine of sleep and rest, physical activity, good nutrition and the importance of accessing needed treatment to prevent and manage medical problems and access to treatment for addiction.

Financial wellness: ensuring access to resources for financial stability and security.

Environmental wellness: helping to access and create safe supportive places and spaces that promote sobriety and recovery including both in and outpatient settings for treatment.

Occupational wellness: supporting active involvement in meaning daily activities including work, school, care of family and volunteer activities.