Reclaiming traditional place-based identities and the implications for maximising recovery

First published: 09 May 2019 | Last updated: 20 May 2019

Aims: This study aimed to identify enablers and barriers to the development of recovery potential as part of drug treatment intervention in an area of West Yorkshire.

Design: This paper summarises aspects of the qualitative component of a mixed methods study of recovery and related intervention.

Setting: Two drug dependency treatment centres located in an area of local authority within West Yorkshire.

Participants: 41 individuals attending two treatment centres. The cohort represents the ‘mid-adulthood’ stage of the life-cycle (average age = 35) in which injecting careers were 16 years in average duration.

Intervention: All respondents were service-users of local treatment programmes (typically involving Opioid Substitution Therapy).

Measurements: Semi-structured interviews with the cohort focused upon (amongst others) the rationale / motivation for attempting recovery; barriers / facilitators to recovery and individual goals / ambitions during / following treatment.

Findings: Findings describe relationships between recovery/treatment and the ‘reclamation’ of former (pre-drug using) identities that are intrinsically linked to the geographical location and economic history of the respondents’ residential/familial settings. These findings differ from existing ‘identity-related’ literature regarding drug-related recovery (that typically focus upon ‘spoiled identity’ and/or constructing ‘new’ identities) due to respondents’ emphasis upon the re-appropriation of former work-related, family-focused roles and responsibilities. In addition, these shared goals reflect class-based, gender-focused roles possibly regarded ‘traditional’ in the geographic places of data generation.

Conclusions: The development of recovery capital should involve greater consideration of the geographic places (and associated sensemaking) in which service-users reside. Such consideration maximises ‘intervention relevance’ and may enable ‘meaningful productivity’ amongst those seeking recovery from drug dependency.


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Stephen Parkin