• 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.
    • Chasing a pot of gold: an analysis of emerging recovery-oriented addiction policies in Flanders (Belgium) and the Netherlands

      Bellaert, Lore; Martinelli, Thomas; Vanderplasschen, Wouter; Best, David; van de Mheen, Dike; Vander Laenen, Freya; Ghent University; Tilberg University, The Netherlands; University of Derby (Taylor and Francis, 2021-04-26)
      Following the paradigm shift to recovery in the Anglophone world, recovery is also gaining momentum in drug policy and practice in Flanders (Belgium) and the Netherlands. Since the meaning of recovery is being debated internationally, broadening the assessment of how the recovery framework is applied in policy discourse and how it is implemented in various international contexts is imperative. This com parative policy analysis aims to assess similarities and differences in addiction recovery vision, imple mentation, and evaluation in Flanders and the Netherlands. The thematic analysis draws upon a triangulation of different data collection methods: a focus group (n ¼ 14) and interviews (n ¼ 21) with key figures in the addictions field, followed by analyses of relevant policy documents (n ¼ 9). Our find ings show that a holistic vision of addiction recovery is endorsed in both countries. Although differen ces in policy development occurred (i.e. centrally driven in Flanders versus ‘bottom-up’ in the Netherlands), similar challenges emerged concerning recovery-oriented addiction policies. While policy makers in Flanders and the addiction sector in the Netherlands strongly proclaim recovery, structural implementation, dedicated funding, and systematic evaluation of recovery-oriented policies are lacking. This study suggests that systematic inclusion of experts by experience and aligning government and practice level funding and policies are crucial.
    • 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.
    • The Strengths and Barriers Recovery Scale (SABRS): Relationships matter in building strengths and overcoming barriers

      Best, David; Sondhi, Arun; Brown, Lorna; Nisic, Mulka; Martinelli, Thomas; van de Mheen, Dike; Vanderplasschen, Wouter; University of Derby; Therapeutic Solutions (Addictions), London; Recovered Users Network (RUN), Brussels, Belgium; et al. (Frontiers, 2021-03-26)
      There is a well-established relationship between isolation and both morbidity and mortality in the context of addiction recovery, yet the protective effects of intimate and familial relationships have not been adequately assessed. The current paper uses the European Life In Recovery database to assess the association between relationship status and living with dependent children on recovery capital of people in recovery from drug addiction, operationalised by the Strengths And Barriers Recovery Scale (SABRS). The study participants were drawn from the REC-PATH study and supplemented by a second sample recruited by the Recovered Users Network (RUN) across various European countries, resulting in a combined sample of 1,313 individuals completing the survey, primarily online. The results show that, in recovery, those who are married or co habiting reported significantly greater recovery strengths and fewer barriers to recovery, and reported greater gains in recovery capital across their recovery journeys. Similar associations are found for participants who have dependent children living with them. There is also some indication that this association is stronger for female than for male participants. Finally, having more people that one can rely on and a greater proportion of people in recovery in the social network are both linked to greater recovery capital and greater self-reported growth in recovery capital. We conclude that this study provides further evidence in favour of a “social cure” in recovery, in which close familial ties are associated with stronger recovery resources