“Recovery is Contagious” – RECOVEU as part of a presentation to the Health Committee of the Irish national parliament

In April 2015, Soilse, the Irish RECOVEU partner, was invited to present an overview of a recent report on recovery to the Health Committee of the Irish national parliament (known as the Dáil). The report, titled Recovery is Contagious – A case for the re-orientation of drug treatment and rehabilitation services in Ireland, grew out of Soilse’s work with recovering addicts.

The presentation looked at the current status of drug use in Ireland today where some 10,000 people are on methadone, including 3,300 for more than a decade. Ireland’s current drug strategy, which runs until 2016, is based on a treatment model which aims to minimise disease, unlike recovery models which aim to maximise health and wellbeing. In Ireland and internationally there is a growing focus on recovery from addiction with services increasingly reframed around service user needs and aspirations. Conceptually, the work of Granfield and Cloud¹ on recovery capital underpins this approach. Their work focuses on developing the person’s strengths and assets to build their recovery capital. 

Soilse told the parliamentary committee that service users should not be kept on methadone indefinitely and that those who wanted to come off methadone should be assisted in “moving on” and exiting services. Overall, the aim of services should be “to maximise the quality of life, re-engagement and independent living, and employability” of those in recovery.

Examples of how recovery happens in other countries were presented. These include: recovery academies; recovery coaches; recovery champions; the role of fellowships; celebrations of recovery; recovery infrastructure such as recovery houses, cafés and dry bars; small enterprises; and development supports. Soilse also outlined its own work on recovery. For instance, Soilse has introduced recovery coaches into its service, facilitated fellowship meetings on its premises and produced relevant research to develop the evidence base on recovery in Ireland. 

As part of the presentation, Soilse explained the RECOVEU project (part of the EU’s Lifelong Learning Programme) and the goals to which its five international partners are working. These include a policy and practice review, a facilitation pack for trainers, modules on recovery, a website and an e-learning platform.

At the end of the presentation, Soilse asked the lawmakers to change the focus of Irish drug policy (which is due for renewal in 2016) to one based on recovery, as outlined in Recovery is Contagious. The report was well received by the health committee members and a discussion followed looking at the challenges faced by those trying to achieve recovery and potential changes that may help them. 

The report can be downloaded here.

¹ Cloud, W. and Granfield, W. (2009). ‘Conceptualising recovery capital: expansion of a theoretical construct’, Substance use and misuse, 42, 12/13: 1971-1986.