A substance use disorder (SUD) is a complex medical condition involving brain circuitry, genetics, life experiences and the environment that affects more than 21 million Americans today.

A substance use disorder begins with use, followed by misuse, then increasingly progress into substance use disorders, or for those on the severe scale, addiction. The active phase of substance use disorder is often interrupted by an acute-care event such as an emergency room visit and/or entry into a treatment program.

Recovery is defined as the process of improved physical, psychological, and social well-being and health following a cessation or reduction in substance use.

There is no one definition of early recovery that exists in the field. Some scientists address early recovery as the first 90-day period while others consider it to be the first year to two years of abstinence.

For the purposes of our efforts, we define early recovery as the period of time up to two years following the cessation or reduction of substance use during which significant developmental milestones in the dimensions of purpose and meaning, safe and stable housing, health and well-being, and a networked community of supportive relationships are achieved.