Evidence-based addiction treatment has started to shift away from short-term treatment to a model of sustained recovery management. Substance disorders are now recognized as chronic conditions that require a long-term process of recovery outside of a formal treatment episode.

What is Recovery Management?

Recovery management services are designed to provide formalized support that promotes recovery and well-being for a client while they begin to reengage in their lives. This helps an individual to return to work and productive engagement while offering the accountability and support that is necessary for early recovery.


Why Does It Work?

Addiction can cause alterations in the regions of the brain involved in executive functioning, such as decision making and self-regulation, leading to difficulty maintaining sobriety despite motivation to change. Outsourcing this type of accountability and structure can help individuals in early recovery who are vulnerable to relapse.


Research proves that an individual in recovery is highly vulnerable to relapse during the first 90 days and that success during this time is correlated with long-term success. Recovery management is an established intervention demonstrated to improve recovery rates for patients with substance use disorder, and engagement in this type of service means long-term recovery is more likely.


This approach is designed to reduce the cycle of repeated short-term treatment episodes by expanding access to recovery support services and case management. Case management and coaching provide client-specific interventions to help an individual achieve stability and intervene quicker and prevent an escalation of substance use if needed. Recovery management allows a client to overcome obstacles and manage barriers to recovery with professionally managed support.


Research demonstrates several benefits to this type of approach to recovery, including:

  • Improved retention and enrollment in substance use treatment services
  • Reduced drug and alcohol use
  • Positive impact on employment status, health status and family relationships
  • Increased community resource utilization
  • Decreased hospital readmissions and emergency room visits
  • Increased hope for clients

How Does It Help?

The process of change often starts at an addiction treatment facility, such as a residential program for 30 to 90 days, and can offer a good foundation; however, long-term recovery requires a long-term approach. Recovery management offers a chance for an individual to establish their sobriety in the real world with professional support and coaching.


Benefits of recovery management programs include:

  • Client linkage with community resources and referrals
  • Rebuilding trust with family members
  • Developing self-confidence
  • Establishing routines and behaviors outside of a formal treatment setting
  • Opportunities to practice skills with coaching and support
  • Accountability to reduce relapse during a high-risk period for relapse
  • Support navigating substance use disorder services and recovery pathways

Effective recovery management programs include:

  • A minimum of 90 days
  • Family and support system involvement
  • Accountability through drug and alcohol monitoring
  • Coordination with outpatient providers and referrals back to care when needed
  • Focus on wellness and the recovery of the whole person
  • Individualized to the client and their substance use disorder(s)
  • Assistance connecting with local resources and referrals

Who Does It Help?

Recovery management can help anyone with a substance use disorder who is ready to make a change to their drug or alcohol use. With such positive outcomes and the numerous benefits of the recovery management model, maybe the question should be: “Why aren’t I engaging my clients in a recovery management program?”
To help address this gap, The Menninger Clinic recently launched the Navigator Program, which provides recovery case management for a minimum of 90 days to help clients establish a foundation of wellness and recovery.
Note: This content, which was written by Vaughan Gilmore, LCSW, LCDC, Leslie Riley, MS, LCDC-I, CPRSS, and Amber Lotsi, LMSW, originally appeared on Mind Matters from Menninger, our blog on Psychology Today.