Dr Beverly Love

Beverly Love is in her final year of a part time research PhD in Psychology at the University of Surrey. The research is about the cycle of relapse and recovery of Class A drug misusing offenders who are part of the Drug Interventions Programme (DIP). Beverly’s interests within this area stem from her time developing and implementing the DIP across England & Wales during her time working for the UK Government’s Home Office (2002-2010). Whilst employed there she was permitted by the Government to conduct her MSc research about the effectiveness of the Aftercare element of the DIP, which helped to inform the direction and scope of her PhD research.

Beverly has also worked on the following Home Office policies – the Prolific and Other Priority Offender Programme and the Integrated Offender Management Programme. During her 12 year career in the UK Government her roles have included conducting research projects, managing and commissioning research contracts and advising policy colleagues about the application and relevance of research in policy and practice.

Beverly was awarded a fees only bursary from the University of Reading (2010-2013) and was awarded the SSA studentship in 2015 to help support her PhD research.

Beverly holds a BSc (Joint Hons) in Psychology & Criminology (Keele University) and an MSc in Forensic Psychology (Middlesex University). Her future career aspirations are to continue to conduct research within the addictions field with the hope to be able to inform and help develop policy, strategy and practice.

Relapse and recovery of substance misusing offenders: the impact of childhood, trauma, relationships & psychological health

Background & aims
The UK Government’s Drug Interventions Programme (DIP) aims to reduce Class A drug misuse & the associated offending behaviour. This group have entrenched and long lasting addictions with many ‘failed’ attempts at recovery. There is no published research about DIP clients, using a qualitative methodology with regards to their psychological health, family upbringing, abuse, trauma and relationships and how these might impact on their relapse and recovery. The aim of the research is to ask community based DIP clients what they consider to be important factors in their relapse and recovery. Theories within the developmental psychology field have helped to inform the research.

Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA), a qualitative thematic approach was used. Participants were adults (N=17), who used Class A drugs and were past or current DIP clients. Participants were invited to talk about their experiences of first use, relapse and recovery with a focus on the issues outlined above.

The following themes emerged, abusive childhood experiences, damaged selves and drug use as a coping and survival mechanism for managing emotions, trauma, difficult/abusive relationships and ‘normal’ everyday life – recovery was about managing these in a healthier way. A fourth theme showed how participants transitioned into and out of recovery. Those in more sustained recovery appeared to experience more internalised ‘will’, relational connecting and a range of processing capabilities (e.g. reflection & rational thinking).

The research highlights the need to offer a framework of theories and suggests no one theoretical approach is sufficient to account for such a multifaceted area as addiction and recovery in this group. The importance of a developmental trauma and attachment approach are highlighted from these findings. Implications for policy and practice will be considered and the use of IPA as a methodology for research within the addiction field.

Click here for the presentation slides.