The Science of Recovery Capital

Addiction Recovery Capital

Recovery Capital is the breadth and depth of internal and external resources that can be drawn upon to initiate and sustain recovery1,2. Attention to Recovery Capital focuses on fostering resiliency and encompasses the strengths and supports individuals and services integrate into the practice of lived recovery. It is linked to natural (unassisted) recovery, solution-focused therapy, strengths-based case management, recovery resilience and protective factors, and the ideas of hardiness, wellness, and global health3.

At the core of Recovery Capital is the ideas of social capital –strong therapeutic landscapes, emotional intelligence and the pivotal experience of a sense of belonging. All of which can support recovery if recovery networks are not stigmatized. Recovery Capital has four overlapping dimensions – personal, social, community and cultural capital. The Recovery Capital Conference goals are to explore the components of community and cultural Recovery Capital by fostering dialogue and mobilizing strategic focuses to effectively impact and improve individual and community Recovery Capital.

The quality and quantity of Recovery Capital determine the success or failure of natural and assisted long term recovery1,4,5,6.   Recovery Capital is not equally distributed, resources made available are vast and varied, and elements of Recovery Capital vary in importance within stages of recovery7. Recovery-oriented systems of care from the policy level to the grassroots front-line efforts can either augment or nullify the quality and quantity of Recovery Capital for individuals seeking our help8. As such, Recovery Capital must involve more than short term clinical and medical interventions

Enhanced attention to Recovery Capital is a shift in focus from the pathology of addiction to a focus on the assets required to initiate and sustain long-term recovery3. The international recovery day movement is a key example of this. It has increased the visibility of therapeutic landscapes, decreased ignorance towards the possibility of recovery and reduced social exclusion and discrimination9,10.

Building and sustaining Recovery Capital within systems of care is a complex undertaking. Stronger Connections = Stronger communities can enhance people’s quality of life in long-term recovery and reduce the social stigma of recovery11

  1. Granfield, R., & Cloud, W. (1999). Coming clean: Overcoming addiction without treatment. New York: New York University Press.
  2. Cloud, W., & Granfield, R. (2004). A life-course perspective on exiting addiction: The relevance of Recovery Capital in treatment. NAD Publication (Nordic Council for Alcohol and Drug Research) 44, 185202.
  3. White, W. & Cloud, W. (2008). Recovery Capital: A primer for addictions professionals. Counsellor, 9(5), 22-27.
  4. Granfield, R., & Cloud, W. (1996). The elephant that no one sees: Natural recovery among middle-class addicts. Journal of Drug Issues, 26(1), 45-61.
  5. Kaskutas, L. A., Bond, J., & Humphreys, K. (2002). Social networks as mediators of the effects of Alcoholics Anonymous. Addiction, 97(7), 891-900.
  6. Moos, R.H., & Moos, B.S. (2007). Protective resources and long-term recovery from alcohol use disorders. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 86, 46-54.
  7. Laudet, A. B., & White, W. L. (2008). Recovery Capital as Prospective Predictor of Sustained Recovery, Life satisfaction and Stress among former poly-substance users. Substance Use & Misuse, 43(1), 27–54.
  8. Dingle, Cruwys, & Frings (2015) Social Identities as Pathways into and out of Addiction. Frontiers in Psychology, 6, 1795
  9. Wilton, R. and DeVerteuil, G. 2006: Spaces of sobriety/sites of power: examining social model alcohol recovery programs as therapeutic landscapes. Social Science and Medicine 63, 649-61
  10. Best, D., Lubman, D., Savic, M., Wilson, A., Dingle, G., Haslam, S. A., et al. (2014). Social and transitional identity: exploring social networks and their significance in a therapeutic community setting. Ther. Communities 35, 10–20. doi: 10.1108/TC-04-2013-0007
  11. Best, D. (2015). An unlikely hero? Challenging stigma through visibility and community action.

Recovery Capital is the breadth and depth of internal and external resources that can be drawn upon to initiate and sustain recovery from alcohol or drug problems. (Granfield and Cloud 2004).

Recovery Capital is conceptually linked to natural recovery, solution-focused recovery therapy, strengths-based case management, recovery management, resilience and protective factors, and the ideas of hardiness, wellness, and global health.
Recovery Capital: A Primer for Addiction Professionals, William L. White, MA and William Cloud, Ph.D (2008)


My Recovery Plan utilizes a comprehensive set of recovery assessment tools (Commitment to Recovery, Recovery Barriers, Unmet Service Needs, Recovery Group Involvement, Meaningful Activities, etc) to create a clear and accurate picture of exactly where the client is at.

The results of the assessment generate a visual report that the program then uses, in conjunction with a trained Peer Navigator associated with the program, to develop a framework of Recovery Goals that create a finite and concrete pathway to successful, long-term recovery.

Dr. David Best Bio

Dr. David Best has an under-graduate degree in psychology with philosophy, a Masters degree in criminology and a PhD in the psychology of addictions. He has authored three books on addiction recovery and has written more than 170 peer-reviewed publications and around 70 book chapters and technical reports. Previous employers include the Institute of Psychiatry (Kings College London), Strathclyde University, Birmingham University, the National Treatment Agency and the Prime Minister’s Delivery Unit. His current research activities are around:

  • recovery pathways
  • recovery capital and its measurement
  • social identity theory and its implications for recovery
  • recovery and desistance
  • addiction treatment effectiveness particularly in prison settings
  • mentoring

David currently leads a multi-site collaboration on recovery pathways from Therapeutic Communities in Australia, and is the Principal Investigator on a European project on recovery models and philosophies in the UK, Belgium and the Netherlands.

David lives in Sheffield and has an eight-year old son called Billy.