• Are members of mutual aid groups better equipped for addiction recovery? European cross-sectional study into recovery capital, social networks, and commitment to sobriety

      Martinelli, Thomas F.; van de Mheen, Dike; Best, David; Vanderplasschen, Wouter; Nagelhout, Gera E.; University of Derby (Informa UK Limited, 2020-11-09)
      An increasing body of evidence shows that informal mutual aid groups benefit those in addiction recovery. However, attention for mutual aid groups in practice and policy varies internationally and is only recently emerging in continental Europe. Existing evidence is mostly limited to studies of Alcoholics Anonymous groups in the United States. The aim of this cross-sectional study is to examine the relationship between membership of a variety of mutual aid groups and recovery capital, participation in social networks, and commitment to sobriety for individuals in drug addiction recovery (N ¼ 367), living in the UK, the Netherlands, and Belgium. A convenience sample of participants completed an extensive assessment about their recovery experiences. Sixty-nine percent of participants reported lifetime (ever) membership of different mutual aid groups. Analyses reveal that membership of mutual aid groups is strongly associated with more participation and (self-reported) changes in social networks, greater levels of recovery capital, and a stronger commitment to sobriety. The findings suggest that participation in mutual aid groups may support addiction recovery through multiple mechanisms of change in favor of recovery. These findings highlight how mutual aid support may complement formal addiction treatment.
    • Building Recovery Capital through Community Engagement: A Hub and Spoke Model for Peer-based Recovery Support Services in England

      Best, David; Higham, David; Pickersgill, Ged; Higham, Kerrie; Hancock, Richard; Critchlow, Theresa; University of Derby; The Well (Informa UK Limited, 2020-07-02)
      There is a growing evidence base that recovery is contagious and its primary mechanism of spread is through peer champions and groups. This paper examines a model of peer-based recovery support services from Cumbria, England, that uses a hub and spoke method to create visible recovery while actively engaging with and supporting community growth. Three case studies are used to illustrate how peer engagement, using the principles of community connection and assertive linkage, can offer core resources to a local community. The key conclusion is that sustainability of recovery communities rests on effective community engagement and meeting the needs of those communities.
    • Comparing three stages of addiction recovery: long-term recovery and its relation to housing problems, crime, occupation situation, and substance use

      Martinelli, Thomas F.; Nagelhout, Gera E.; Bellaert, Lore; Best, David; Vanderplasschen, Wouter; van de Mheen, Dike; University of Derby (Informa UK Limited, 2020-06-24)
      Many studies on addiction recovery focus on recovery initiation and short-term outcomes for alcohol addictions. In this study, we examine associations between three recovery stages and recovery markers for persons in drug addiction recovery. Data were collected for a multi-country study (REC-PATH) among 722 individuals living in the UK, the Netherlands, and Belgium, who consider themselves in addiction recovery for a period of three months or more. We focus on typical life domains that characterize recovery: housing, crime, work or education, and substance use. The relation with time in recovery was examined for three recovery stages: early (<1 year), sustained (1–5 years), and stable (>5 years). Using the Life in Recovery survey, cross-sectional analyses reveal that participants in later recovery stages have lower odds of having housing problems, being involved in crime, and using illicit hard drugs and higher odds of having work or education, when compared to participants in the early recovery stage. This study provides further empirical support for defining drug addiction recovery as a gradual, long-term process that is associated with various life domains beyond abstinence. The findings suggest that drug policy, treatment and research need to be oriented towards long-term objectives and recovery goals that cover multiple life domains in order to support stable recovery.
    • Mapping social identity change in online networks of addiction recovery

      Best, David; Bliuc, Ana-Maria; Iqbal, Muhammad; Upton, Katie; Hodgkins, Steve; Sheffield Hallam University; Western Sydney University; Monash University; Job, Friends and Houses, UK; Blackpool Division, Lancashire Police (Informa UK Limited, 2017-07-27)
      ustainable addiction recovery is determined in part by how social and community resources can be mobilised to support long-term identity change. Given the current growth in technology, we ask what the role of online social interactions is in supporting long-term identity change for people in recovery. The paper also explores the relationship between the evolution of online social networks and key events that members experience in the outside world, based on a project examining changes in online participation over eight months among members of a UK addiction recovery community built around a social enterprise for employment and housing. The social enterprise had an open Facebook page that was used by staff, clients and by a diverse range of individuals not directly involved in the organisation. Based on an analysis of naturally occurring online data on the Facebook page, social network analysis (SNA) and computerised linguistic analysis that quantified emotion and belonging language in posts and subsequent ‘likes’, we found that variations in the structure of the online social network and the content of communication are consistent with ‘core’ members’ experience of those events. Our findings indicate that strong recovery networks supported by positive social interactions can contribute to achieving long-term identity change that supports sustaining engagement in recovery communities.