Multiple Pathways to Recovery, Multiple Roads to Well-Being: An Analysis of Recovery Pathways in the Australian Life in Recovery Survey

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It is generally acknowledged that there are multiple pathways to recovery from alcohol and other drug (AOD) problems. These may include participation in AOD treatment, mutual aid, or other activities. It is unclear whether particular sociodemographic characteristics shape a person’s recovery journey or whether particular recovery pathways are associated with improved well-being. This article explores these questions using data from the Australian Life in Recovery study (N = 573). Compared to treatment and/or mutual aid pathway groups, the natural recovery group were less likely to have used mental health services and were more socially connected during periods of addiction. Since being in recovery, mutual aid pathway groups more strongly identified as being in recovery and having social networks consisting of a greater proportion of people in recovery compared to the natural recovery group. People in all pathway groups reported high well-being, and there were no significant differences in well-being measures between groups. Findings suggest that people in recovery may experience high well-being irrespective of the pathway they take, but social factors may be influential in which pathways people take. Treatment and recovery systems need to offer multiple recovery pathways so that people can take the pathway that suits them best.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)482-498
Number of pages17
JournalAlcoholism Treatment Quarterly
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2 Oct 2018


  • mutual aid
  • natural recovery
  • pathways
  • Recovery
  • treatment

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