DOI: 10.1177/00469580231220476 ISSN: 0046-9580

Age, 12-Step Group Involvement, and Relapse Affect Use of Sobriety Date as Recovery Start Date: A Mixed Methods Analysis

Melissa A. Cyders, Melissa Fry, Taylor Fox, Katherine Shircliff, Molly Jacobs, Hannah Scott
  • Health Policy

The purpose of this paper is to explore the use of sobriety date as recovery start date, from the perspective of those in recovery, using a mixed methods approach. We report findings from 389 individuals who identify as being in recovery from a substance and/or alcohol use disorder concerning how they define their recovery start date. We report findings from logistic regression examining how the use of a sobriety date as a recovery start date differs across age, 12-step group engagement, and previous relapse occurrence. We complement these findings with qualitative data from focus groups discussions of how 44 individuals who identify as in recovery define what “recovery” means, how and why people choose their recovery start date, and the significance of sobriety in recovery start date definitions. About 50% (n = 182) of the quantitative sample defined their recovery start date as their date of last substance use or their first day of sobriety. Individuals who were younger, engaged in 12-step groups, and did not report a relapse had significantly greater odds of using a sobriety date as their recovery start date. Focus groups revealed nuances around sobriety date and, what for some was, a broader concept of recovery. The current findings prioritize the views of those in recovery to understand and define their own recovery start date. How those in recovery think about and define their recovery start date may have particular meaning. Research and clinical work would benefit from inquiring about recovery and sobriety dates separately.

More from our Archive