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(What is Needed, What It Will Take, and the Overwhelming Realization That Prevention is Better Than Cure)

The emphasis in the recovery literature has tended toward an exploration of recovery capital (the accrual of positive strengths, resources, and assets), therefore this paper will explore the pains of recovery alongside strengths, resources and assets (pull factors) to permit a more comprehensive insight into the recovery journey.

The recovery journey is experienced in both positive and negative ways and as such this paper attempts to integrate the ‘pains of desistance’ approach into a recovery capital framework (Nugent and Schinkel 2016). The ‘pains’ of recovery are defined here as negative factors and forces that act either as barriers that impede a person’s capacity to overcome substance misuse problems (or negative factors and forces that are used by the individual as a means or motivation to make positive change).

Therefore, we will firstly identify which pains of recovery (push factors) are present, and which strengths, resources and assets (pull factors) are present, within the three domains (of personal, social and community recovery capital), at two phases of the recovery journey (early and stable recovery). Given that the likelihood of relapse reduces from the early recovery phase to the stable recovery phase (Best 2019), we are keen to observe what recovery capital looks like in these two phases of recovery, by exploring what happens to the number and nature of both the pull factors and the pains of recovery in each phase and how the pains of recovery are managed and overcome from the early phase to the later phase. Secondly, we will explore which push and pull factors and forces either promote the growth of recovery capital in the three domains or impede it. Of interest here will be an exploration of whether the pain of recovery act as a push factor for positive change.

The Three Domains of Capital

Personal capital: overcoming and managing adversity (All five themes relating to personal capital in early recovery were identified as pains of recovery._

  • The pains of uncovering unresolved Trauma
  • The pains of low self-esteem
  • The pains of uncovering alternative addictions
  • The unexpected pains of sobriety
  • Pains of purposeless and hopelessness

Social capital (Two of the three themes relating to social capital in early recovery were identified as pains of recovery and a pull factor was also identified.)

  • The pains of family relationships and dysfunction
  • The pains of leaving old social and friendship networks
  • Mutual aid groups: gaining new friendships and tools for recovery

Community capital (All four themes relating to community capital in early recovery were identified as pains of recovery.)

  • The pains of housing transitions
  • The pains of securing meaningful employment opportunities and managing their recovery around work
  • The pains of negative professional experiences
  • The pains of stigma as negative community capital
  • 2. Stable recovery: the ongoing successes and challenges

Personal capital (There were three pains of recovery and two pull factors for the personal capital domain in stable recovery.)

  • Living a life beyond what was envisioned
  • The ongoing pains of self-esteem
  • The ongoing pains of mental health
  • The pains of relapse
  • Post recovery identities: front doors and good exits

Social capital (Two of the three themes relating to social capital in stable recovery were identified as pains of recovery and two were identified as pull factors. Family provoked mixed responses in that it continued to be a source of dysfunction and therefore a pain of recovery but for many it was now a stabilizing form of recovery capital.)

  • The pains of social events
  • Romantic relationships
  • Family reconciliation and the pains of ongoing trauma

Community capital (Both themes relating to community capital in stable recovery were identified as pull factors.)

  • Stable and secure accommodation
  • Work: seniority and broadening social networks
  • Employment broadening social networks

For full article

(Dalgarno Institute Comment: Drug Use Exiting Therapeutic communities are key resources in addressing all of these areas I.e. Fresh Start’s P.H.R.E.E. project has had these elements in play for decades…

Physiology – Housing – Relationships – Education – Employment

The staggering amount of resources necessary to walk a substance user out of the tyranny of addiction even to a baseline of ‘normalcy’ is staggering. To monetize the above resources alone is staggering. #Prevention and #Demand Reduction must be the imperative of drug policy, not just to merely curtail the crippling financial costs, but much more, spare the pain to the drug user and their families and communities.)

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