What is Recovery Capital?

what is recovery capital

David WhitesockBy David Whitesock, Founder at Commonly Well and architect of the Recovery Capital Index (RCI)

 

What is recovery capital? Recovery Capital is the depth and breadth of internal and external resources that can be used by someone to begin and sustain wellness from addiction (Granfield and Cloud, 1999). It’s a concept that respects the entire presence and experience of a person. Most definitions of recovery capital — like the one above — shift the focus from the reasons one has addiction to the elements that promote recovery. 

As you’ll come to understand, such pathology versus resiliency gymnastics are not necessary. Whether we’re in a state of addiction or in a state of recovery, we are still pulling from the same social, economic, and environmental elements that either promote or hinder our wellbeing. Recovery, like life for someone not affected by addiction, is an ongoing dialogue with those elements. 

We can think of recovery capital as a specialized representation of wellbeing. Our primary intention here will be to focus on recovery capital as a foundational idea that can be measured, and because it can be measured, it can drive strategies for successful engagement and outcomes. Recovery capital isn’t ambiguous. It can be broken into parts that direct strategies for clinical engagement, individual self-discovery, organizational performance, community impact, and changes in policy.

What are those parts or domains of recovery capital and how can you help support those domains for positive results?

What are the Domains of Recovery Capital?

Think of Recovery Capital as an umbrella term. If we say our recovery capital is high, we’re effectively saying that a complex set of factors have come together for a net positive representation of our recovery. Of course, “recovery” is another umbrella term. Each of us can have our own definition of recovery. As providers and systems of care, we need a common language for operation and for measuring success. We must break down this complexity into its component parts. When we look at recovery, we start with three primary domains: Personal, Social, and Cultural. Within each domain are measurable components like, education, employment, housing, social connections, family relationships, values, and purpose. By breaking recovery into its component parts, we can measure each, determine their effect on one another and on desired outcomes, and devise strategies for better care and improved recovery management.

Personal Capital

Personal Capital is the collection of tangible and intangible assets available to or part of an individual. Think of your personal capital as your general and mental health, nutrition, financial wellbeing, employment and education. Like all areas of life, you can have direct control over some things, while others require acceptance, cooperation, and work. 

 

Being employed is a tangible asset. Having a job is core to our recovery and overall wellbeing. But, it is not enough to know whether someone is simply employed or what their employment status is; we must consider whether they are satisfied with that work and if their recovery is supported in that work. Sometimes we will hate our job and stay in it because we need the paycheck. We foreclose any consideration that there might be something better. The longer we do that, the worse we feel. The worse we feel, the chances increase that we start making poor decisions in other areas of our life. Now we have a cascading set of events two and three degrees removed from the source, which could have been avoided. 

 

Social Capital

The historical roots of recovery capital can be found in the broader sociological concept of social capital — i.e., social networks have value. Social Capital in our context is the totality of an individual’s relationship assets, including support obligations, lifestyle, and social mobility. However we individually define our recovery, our web of social connections in the world have great influence on whether or why we use drugs or get a promotion. We could use our social capital to ensure an event does not happen (recurrence of symptoms), or we can harness it to more broadly advance our lives.

Cultural Capital

We exist as individuals in higher constructs of community, culture, and belief systems. Cultural Capital encompasses those realms through our values, beliefs, and connection to other social and community specific norms. We can sometimes experience wide change in cultural capital as our value system grows or community norms change around us. It is important to remember that elements of cultural capital tend to change at slower rates over time — likely demanding greater mindfulness of each component.

Where Do We Go with Recovery Capital?

Recovery capital was coined by William Cloud, a researcher who was wondering why some people were able to overcome addiction without treatment, while others would cycle in and out of programs for years. By understanding what individuals might be missing to prevent addiction or sustain recovery, we can apply more focused solutions, either in one-on-one situations or across entire communities. 

When practitioners have a better understanding of the recovery capital of the people they serve, they can now take an active part in forming sustainable solutions. This will open up capacity to more of the people in desperate need for clinical care. Or as William White, a prolific recovery advocate has stated, “Recovery capital constitutes the potential antidote for the problems that have long plagued recovery efforts.”

 

About the Recovery Capital Index

The Recovery Capital Index (RCI) was created to measure the root factors of addiction. The RCI is a scientifically validated survey that helps organizations of all sizes establish meaningful outcomes. While many competitors include elements of recovery capital in their platforms, these tools lack the scientific rigor and focus of a dedicated instrument. The data directly informs individual care while simultaneously capturing collective recovery capital of a population. Your organization will have the right data to be successful while playing a measurable role in reversing the addiction crisis.

what is recovery capital

What are the Domains of Recovery Capital?

Think of Recovery Capital as an umbrella term. If we say our recovery capital is high, we’re effectively saying that a complex set of factors have come together for a net positive representation of our recovery. Of course, “recovery” is another umbrella term. Each of us can have our own definition of recovery. As providers and systems of care, we need a common language for operation and for measuring success. We must break down this complexity into its component parts. When we look at recovery, we start with three primary domains: Personal, Social, and Cultural. Within each domain are measurable components like, education, employment, housing, social connections, family relationships, values, and purpose. By breaking recovery into its component parts, we can measure each, determine their effect on one another and on desired outcomes, and devise strategies for better care and improved recovery management.

Personal Capital

Think of Recovery Capital as an umbrella term. If we say our recovery capital is high, we’re effectively saying that a complex set of factors have come together for a net positive representation of our recovery. Of course, “recovery” is another umbrella term. Each of us can have our own definition of recovery. As providers and systems of care, we need a common language for operation and for measuring success. We must break down this complexity into its component parts. When we look at recovery, we start with three primary domains: Personal, Social, and Cultural. Within each domain are measurable components like, education, employment, housing, social connections, family relationships, values, and purpose. By breaking recovery into its component parts, we can measure each, determine their effect on one another and on desired outcomes, and devise strategies for better care and improved recovery management.

Social Capital

The historical roots of recovery capital can be found in the broader sociological concept of social capital — i.e., social networks have value. Social Capital in our context is the totality of an individual’s relationship assets, including support obligations, lifestyle, and social mobility. However we individually define our recovery, our web of social connections in the world have great influence on whether or why we use drugs or get a promotion. We could use our social capital to ensure an event does not happen (recurrence of symptoms), or we can harness it to more broadly advance our lives.

Cultural Capital

We exist as individuals in higher constructs of community, culture, and belief systems. Cultural Capital encompasses those realms through our values, beliefs, and connection to other social and community specific norms. We can sometimes experience wide change in cultural capital as our value system grows or community norms change around us. It is important to remember that elements of cultural capital tend to change at slower rates over time — likely demanding greater mindfulness of each component.

About the Recovery Capital Index

The Recovery Capital Index (RCI) was created to measure the root factors of addiction. The RCI is a scientifically validated survey that helps organizations of all sizes establish meaningful outcomes. While many competitors include elements of recovery capital in their platforms, these tools lack the scientific rigor and focus of a dedicated instrument. The data directly informs individual care while simultaneously capturing collective recovery capital of a population. Your organization will have the right data to be successful while playing a measurable role in reversing the addiction crisis.

Want to Know Your Recovery Capital Score?

Take your RCI assessment today.
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