Recovery Pathways / Research

The REC-PATH project is aiming to assess variations in recovery policy and practice between four countries: England, Scotland, the Netherlands and Belgium, furthering advancement of recovery strategies and interventions on a personal experience level. One focus of the study is Societal Responses playing a major role in recovery capital. A more in depth analysis will draw on three aspects of societal responses: Personal capital, Social capital and Community capital. Moreover, a developmental approach will be used within this research investigating changes in recovery at different stages (<1 year, 1-5 years, >5 years into recovery). In total, five Mechanisms of Behaviour Change for Recovery (MOBCR) will be assessed for the role they play, and the effect they have at different recovery stages. These MOBCR are: natural recovery, 12-step-fellowships, peer-based recovery support, residential rehabilitation treatment and specialist outpatient treatment. In effect, the study is mapping the road to recovery from problematic drug use (excluding alcohol and prescription drugs), while simultaneously investigating the societal responses towards these individuals, with a key interest in the MOBCR of choice (and at what stage of recovery), individual participant characteristics, and any variations between country policy and practice.

The four countries are at different stages in recovery policy. By investigating all combined, the study will be able to analyse the effect of these. In the UK, recovery policy has been a continuing aim for the government and has been established for a number of years. Whereas in other countries (the Netherlands and Belgium) recovery policy is in its early stages or just beginning. In theory, there should be a difference between these countries in terms of how and why treatment programs are accessed and their effectiveness.

A mixed methods approach will be employed to assess a number of variables: recovery capital, social networks, social identity, community engagement and societal responses, with a main focus on gender differences within recovery pathways and the change that ultimately occurs. Participant’s personal experience is of great importance. The policy and practice change on stigma and the assessment of reintegration into society will also be measured. This in depth study, spanning many various variables, over four countries and two genders will provide valuable findings into addiction recovery.

The main body of the methodology will be quantitative through the medium of a large survey encapsulating all the above variables. Alongside this form of data collection, a qualitative method will be used through in depth interviews. These interviews will be focussed directly on the individual experience on recovery through a narrative understanding of the specific role of various sources of recovery capital and MOBCR’s. Photovoice will also be used in the Belgium part of the study.

The key dimensions to be studied in this project are: Quality of Life (QoL); Recovery, Stigma & Social Exclusion; Recovery, Social Networks & Social Identity; Developmental Pathways along the Recovery Journey, and the five MOBCR’s. The QoL focus is on the strengths of a person and his/her environment, and is an important outcome measure in care for individuals suffering with chronic illness. Improvements in varying domains of QoL are critical in recovery, and a central theme of the current project. This is also central to the exploration of recovery pathways. Recovery, Stigma & Social Exclusion: the World health Organisation (WHO) reports that drug dependency is the most stigmatised health condition in the world. This stigma affects drug dependent individuals to the point of social exclusion and lower QoL as their chance of a ‘normal’ life feels diminished. Recovery, Social Networks & Social Identity shows that a transition from a social network that is approving of drug taking, to one that is approving of recovery and sobriety is a positive change. By having this transition in your peers, the likelihood of recovery is heightened. Developmental Pathways along the Recovery Journey, this section is further split into the MOBCR’s as a way of including recovery on all levels. This means that, as recovery definitions are often contentious in that they often only focus on one particular theory or philosophy, no definition will capture all participants’ recovery beliefs.