Key findings from the RECOVEU Policy and Practice Review

A key objective of the RECOVEU project has been to conduct a review of policy and practice in relation to drug recovery programmes across Europe. The aim of this review has been to identify cultural similarities and differences between the partner countries not just in terms of policy espousal but also in enactment. The review has drawn on existing data and the experiential knowledge of the partners to develop a more nuanced understanding of the impact of drug policy and EU strategy in each of the partner countries, with a particular emphasis on how this influences practice in drug treatment. We have identified a number of key issues across the partner countries.

Although all the partner countries are guided by EU policies and strategy on drugs and addiction there are clear differences in what has been implemented and the focus for this within the individual partner countries.  One of the challenges identified in the review is working within a medical definition of recovery and a resultant lack of recognition of the way in which non-medicalised and non-addiction specific interventions can contribute to treatment and to the development of social capital and social reintegration. This situation differs for all the partners who are each at different stages in the extent to which the recovery discourse is recognised at a policy level. 

Within each of the partner countries people with addiction related problems are referred to using different ‘labels’ which reflect the dominant discourse around addiction. All the partner countries are affected by a similar lack of consensus on addiction treatment and recovery. The evidence from this review suggests that drug users can often be the target of moralistic judgments within predominantly medical treatment contexts, judgments that can affect the way in which policy is enacted, the direction of funding and the availability of services in all partner countries. We would argue that a continued focus on what addiction recovery means is necessary as it is only through reaching this consensus that service providers can move forward with providing the wide range of interventions needed to support sustained recovery from the difficulties caused by addiction and which will include both medical and psycho-social support.

There are few specific opportunities for adults in recovery to engage with employability programmes in the five partner countries. Currently, there are also no Access to Learning programmes designed specifically for people in recovery or which take into account any specific issues or barriers they face. It is our conclusion that access to higher education can provide opportunities for people to both re-evaluate and re-establish their lives after addiction. It is against this backdrop that RECOVEU access to learning resources that enable people to develop and work towards their own learning goals in recovery will be developed. 

You can download the full Policy and Practice Review and Executive Summary here