Recovery Pathways / Participant information / Participant information – English

Welcome to the Life in Recovery Survey!

We are excited to conduct the first phase of a European collaboration that will study pathways to recovery from problematic illicit drug use. The Life in Recovery (LiR) survey is designed to document the lives of people who have reduced or stopped problematic use of drugs, and how overcoming their problematic use has changed their lives and the lives of those around them. The survey will gather information primarily online but you may also receive a hard, paper copy from people in England, Scotland, the Netherlands and Belgium, but we expect this survey to gather data from other places as well.

In this survey and in other publications, we use the term ‘in recovery’ to describe a personal process of change. You may not see yourself as someone ‘in recovery’, and we do ask in the survey which term you think best describes your present status.

What is the purpose of the survey?

You are invited to help an international team of addiction and recovery researchers asking how being in recovery can change the lives of persons who had a problem with illicit drugs, their loved ones and their communities.

Who should complete the survey?

Minimum age 18 years old.

Anyone who considers themselves to have had problems with illicit drugs is encouraged to complete the survey. While much is known about the many costs of problematic illicit drug use, we know very little about what happens in a person’s life in recovery. We want to hear about your experiences regardless of whether you have sought any help or not or whether you consider yourself as someone “in recovery”; we would very much like to hear from you. If you know other people who may also be interested in sharing their experiences for this important project, please send them the survey link and encourage them to participate. Anyone who considers themselves ‘in recovery’ FOR AT LEAST 3 MONTHS is encouraged to complete the survey.

What will happen if you take part?

Participation in this survey is voluntary and anonymous. All data will be anonymised and no-one will be able to connect you or your data (answers) to yourself. You may wish to exit the survey at any time. It is up to you to decide if you want to take part. A copy of the information provided here is yours to keep along with the consent form if you do decide to take part. You are being asked to share with us your experiences of recovery. You can still decide to withdraw at any time without giving a reason or you can decide not to answer a particular question.

The survey should take you about 15/20 minutes to complete.

At the end of the survey you will be asked if you are interested in participating in the second and third phases of the project, which involves a more detailed interview about your recovery process. For completion of the second phase, candidates will be paid £10/10€/equivalent voucher. This will take part one month after filling in the online survey. The third phase will take place 12 months after phase 2 and an additional £15/15€/equivalent voucher will be paid at the 12 months follow up. If you choose to provide contact information, please note that your survey responses will no longer be anonymous to the researcher. At this point you are still completely free to withdraw. The study will last three years in total starting from 2018; further information about how the study is going and the results will be published online here under project overview/publications.

All data will be stored confidentially and securely in accordance with the GDPR 2018. We do not collect your IP address. Your email address and survey data will be stored separately. Should you leave the survey before completion, your data will not be saved. If you then wish to come back, it will be from the beginning.

What are the risks?

There are no physical, social, economic, or legal risks associated with participating in this study, and all of your data will be kept confidential. If you would like to learn more about, illicit drug addiction, mental health conditions or get mental health support, you can find details of various organizations specializing in different conditions, including some 24-hour hotlines/support services (UK), by visiting

Your data

The benefits of taking part are that you and we as researchers, have an opportunity to present to policy makers and practitioners an accurate picture of what life is like in recovery, what has supported your recovery and what has hindered your progress. We would like to help people to overcome any barriers they have experienced by highlighting these experiences and arguing for changes to be made where necessary.

Only the research team will have access to your data; all of whom hold a current DBS check certificate. The fully anonymised data will be used in publications such as reports, peer reviewed journals and presentations. We will share anonymised data with our partners, Belgium and The Netherlands – all of whom will be complying with GDPR 2018 regulations and can be contacted here. The data will be kept for the minimum amount of time as possible- no more than five years after project completion. Anonymised data gathered for this study may be used in future in other studies. Each university participating is separately responsible for all of the information gathered. At Sheffield Hallam University the principal investigator, Professor David Best is responsible for all information relating to the project upon completion.

Legal basis

The University undertakes research as part of its function for the community under its legal status. Data protection allows us to use personal data for research with appropriate safeguards in place under the legal basis of public tasks that are in the public interest. A full statement of your right to privacy can be found here. However, all University research is reviewed to ensure that participants are treated appropriately and their rights respected. This study was approved by UREC with Converis number. Further information at

You are free to contact us at any point and ask any questions
about the study;

James Irving- [email protected].

Details of who to contact if you have any concerns or if adverse effects occur after the study are given below.

Researcher/ Research Team Details:

You should contact the Data Protection Officer if:

  • You have a query about how your data is used by the University
  • You would like to report a data security breach (e.g. if you think your personal data has been lost or disclosed inappropriately)
  • You would like to complain about how the University has used your personal data [email protected].
  • You should contact the Head of Research Ethics (Professor Ann Macaskill) if you have concerns with how the research was undertaken or how you were treated [email protected].

Postal address: Sheffield Hallam University, Howard Street, Sheffield S1 1WBT Telephone: 0114 225 5555.