What is the CHIME Model of Recovery?

August 2, 2023

3 mins

Never Alone Recovery


Many recovery processes and methods have emerged over the years, but the CHIME model has become among the most widely used. Here's what you need to know...

With so many different methods and models to choose from, it's difficult to know which of the many recovery processes would work best for you. If that rings true for you, then perhaps it’s time to check out the CHIME model. 

CHIME recovery is a newer model of recovery with a unique origin. Unlike a lot of recovery programs, it’s far more open ended and focused on you as a person and your conception of what recovery means. If that sounds great to you, then here’s our breakdown of the CHIME model, its origins, and its pros and cons.

What is the CHIME Model of Recovery?

The CHIME model is a framework for recovery that puts an emphasis on your individual needs and sense of self. 

CHIME stands for: 

  • Connectedness: having a good support system, relationships, and connections to others and a community.
  • Hope and Optimism: believing that recovery is possible and supported by relationships. Having hope and optimism means that you’ll be motivated to change, think positively, and value success. 
  • Identity: regaining a positive sense of self, identity, and overcoming the stigma of drug abuse.
  • Meaning: having a life that is full of meaning and purpose as you define it. Finding meaning in your personal experiences, your social roles, and social goals. 
  • Empowerment: having control over your life, focusing on your strengths, and taking personal responsibility.

The Origin of CHIME Recovery

The CHIME model originates in a 2011 study by Mary Leamy, Victoria Bird, Clair le Boutillier, Julie Williams, and Mike Slade. In a meta-review of 366 papers, the team made observations about recovery that would eventually provide an overarching, open-ended structure for the journey to sobriety.

The evidence for CHIME recovery comes from the idea of recovery capital, or assets that can aid in recovery. There are three types of recovery capital: personal, social, and community. 

Personal recovery capital comprises any contributors to your physical and mental well-being; these can consist of food and shelter as well as intangibles like self-esteem and hopefulness. Social or family recovery focuses on close relationships with those who might be involved in your recovery; an intimate partner who wants to help you recover is an example of social recovery capital. Finally, community recovery capital is made up of the attitudes of the community to addiction and available resources. 

Instead of a step-by-step process, the CHIME model is an open-ended structure.

The CHIME study identified five recovery processes and thirteen characteristics, which included:

  • Peer support and social groups
  • Motivation to change
  • Positive thinking
  • Aspirations
  • Overcoming the addiction stigma
  • Personal responsibility and accountability

The scholars also found that individuals of Black and minority ethnic origin tend to focus on their spirituality and the addiction stigma as part of the recovery journey, emphasizing culturally specific factors and collectivist ideas about rehabilitation.

While this model was originally developed as an observation of recovery-oriented services, it would eventually be translated into the Chime in Action model. This framework sees social growth as critical to beginning recovery. Thus, one of the main goals is to create a circle of positive social support, identity, and active participation in recovery activities.

Is CHIME Recovery the Right Choice for You?

The CHIME model has a lot going for it, but that doesn’t mean it’s the right choice for everyone.

The CHIME model originates from a study synthesizing people’s experiences, which means it’s based on real data. It doesn’t just propose a plan for recovery, it analyzes what makes a successful recovery in the first place and makes it available to anyone. But for some, this could be too open-ended or lacking in structure. 

In practice, the CHIME model is a very subjective process. Instead of generalized activities, the meaning of recovery is defined by the individual. However, if you have no idea what you want your own recovery to look like, then it’s very possible that you’ll have difficulty navigating each stage of recovery.

The CHIME model analyzes what makes a successful recovery in the first place.

Ultimately, the CHIME framework often humanizes the recovery process, but some may find it lacking in structure or direction.

Follow Your Own Framework with Never Alone Recovery

CHIME recovery is based in academic studies and supported by evidence. If a more traditional recovery framework isn’t for you, then the CHIME model of recovery is another option to consider.

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction and want guidance, then Never Alone Recovery can help. We offer free drug rehab placement, rehab consultation, and many more services. Join our mailing list to subscribe to our blog so you’ll receive notifications when we post new guides and resources.

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