Recovered Addicts More Civic Minded
19 May 2015 at 12:00 pm
The results of a new Not for Profit study show that recovered drug addicts are highly involved in community and civic groups.
Described as the first Australian study of its kind, the Life In Recovery Survey, provided a detailed insight into what it’s like living with drug and alcohol addiction compared to a life in recovery.
The survey of 573 current and recovered drug and alcohol addicts looked at areas of finance, family and social life, health, legal issues and work and study.
The study was written by Professor David Best from the UK’s Sheffield Hallam University, in conjunction with Not for Profit Turning Point and Victorian mental illness and addiction facility South Pacific Private.
The results showed that recovered addicts are 40 per cent more likely to volunteer in community or civic groups,30 per cent more likely to participate in family activities and 40 per cent less likely to be involved in domestic violence.
“It’s common for recovered addicts to become involved in not-for-profit and community groups because they are highly motivated to give back. Most are grateful for the support they received throughout their recovery journeys and want to help others stuck in the deadly cycle they found their way out of,” General Manager at South Pacific Private, Claire Barber said.
“This is the first attempt at undertaking a recovery survey in Australia and the results are unequivocal in showing that there is an accessible population of Australians who will classify themselves as being in recovery or recovered and who are willing to complete a survey about their experiences.
“The report overwhelmingly connects recovered addicts with being better citizens. Creating a sense of community for recovering and recovered addicts is part of combating the self-centredness that is the nature of addiction,” Barber said.
“More than 80 percent of those surveyed were engaged or had completed a 12-step program which encourages giving back.
“There is a critical message here for policy makers and treatment providers – that people in Australia can and do recover from addiction problems.”
However, the survey found two other important nuanced factors.
“The first is that this is a long and challenging journey for many people and that there will still be residual and ongoing problems for many throughout the recovery journey,” the study found.
“The second is that, while the majority of participants see themselves as being ‘in recovery’, for around one fifth of the participants this is not a term they would use, preferring to regard themselves as recovered or choosing some other way of describing themselves.”
Claire Barber said the striking results are in the key areas around social and family functioning where the rate of involvement in domestic violence decreased from more than 50 per cent to less than 10 per cent and in volunteering where participation increased from less than 20 per cent to more than 50 per cent.
“Similarly, there is a dramatic reduction in involvement with the criminal justice system from around half to less than one in ten, particularly involving the areas of drink-driving and criminal damage.
“There is also a dramatic improvement in both employment and education, and in successful engagement and retention of jobs. This is a story of overcoming adversity and transforming lives to make a significant and positive contribution in their families, in their communities and to society.”
“It is critical that the implications from the Australian Life in Recovery survey are acknowledged and addressed at a Federal, State and local level to ensure that the achievement of recovery is extended across families, communities and professional settings such as health and legal systems,” Barber said.
The report makes a number of policy recommendations including:
1. Policy makers should acknowledge and recognise in drug and alcohol commissioning the key role that recovery organisations play in the initiation and sustaining of recovery journeys that benefit wider society and challenge stereotypes and stigma around addiction.
2. Greater policy and funding commitment to recovery support services to ensure that those who initiate recovery journeys are supported to maximise their own wellbeing and their contributions to family and community.
3. That greater funding is provided for alumni and after care organisations to enable the informal community support that is essential to build recovery capital and recovery communities.
Download the study at: http://bit.ly/AUSlifeinrecovery