Substance Abuse — Recovery post treatment: plans, barriers and motivators

January 30, 2013

Recovery post treatment: plans, barriers and motivators

Source: Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy

Background

The increasing focus on achieving a sustained recovery from substance use brings with it a need to better understand the factors (recovery capital) that contribute to recovery following treatment. This work examined the factors those in recovery perceive to be barriers to (lack of capital) or facilitators of (presence of capital) sustained recovery post treatment.

Methods

An opportunity sample of 45 participants was recruited from 11 drug treatment services in northern England. Semi-structured qualitative interviews lasting between 30 and 90 minutes were conducted one to three months after participants completed treatment. Interviews examined key themes identified through previous literature but focused on allowing participants to explore their unique recovery journey. Interviews were transcribed and analysed thematically using a combination of deductive and inductive approaches.

Results

Participants generally reported high levels of confidence in maintaining their recovery with most planning to remain abstinent. There were indications of high levels of recovery capital. Aftercare engagement was high, often through self referral, with non substance use related activity felt to be particularly positive. Supported housing was critical and concerns were raised about the ability to afford to live independently with financial stability and welfare availability a key concern in general. Employment, often in the substance use treatment field, was a desire. However, it was a long term goal, with substantial risks associated with pursuing this too early. Positive social support was almost exclusively from within the recovery community although the re-building of relationships with family (children in particular) was a key motivator post treatment.

Conclusions

Addressing internal factors and underlying issues i.e. ‘human capital’, provided confidence for continued recovery whilst motivators focused on external factors such as family and maintaining aspects of a ‘normal’ life i.e. ‘social and physical capital’. Competing recovery goals and activities can leave people feeling under pressure and at risk of taking on or being pushed to do too much too soon. The breadth of re-integration and future plans at this stage is limited primarily to the recovery community and treatment sector. Services and commissioners should ensure that this does not become a limiting factor in individuals’ long term recovery journeys.

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