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Recovery From Opiate Addiction Without Treatment: A Summary (From Collection and Interpretation of Data From Hidden Populations, P 113-119, 1990, Elizabeth Y Lambert, ed. -- See NCJ-128609)

NCJ Number
P Biernacki
Date Published
7 pages
A qualitative life history study was conducted with a sample of 101 opiate addicts who had recovered without the assistance of a formal treatment program. The study found that the so-called process of spontaneous remission was actually a social and psychological process that brought about dramatic life changes in a sequences of events, some of which occurred simultaneously.
The first step in recovery is forming a resolve. While some of the subjects recovered from their addiction without developing a strong resolve to do so, others' resolves were rooted in life crises emanating from the drug world itself. Addicts who then became abstinent had to overcome two major obstacles: the popular belief that they would always be addicts and the lack of a cultural role model. The third step in recovery is creating an alternative to drug abuse; these subjects rejected treatment as their alternative and chose other activities including religion, work, family, or politics. The craving phenomenon, experienced in physical or psychological forms, is associated with the first year or so of abstinence. The final step in addiction recovery is becoming "normal" by gaining recognition and acceptance from the nonaddict world. 3 references