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The Importance of Recovery Capital

Recovery capital includes all the resources a person has that can help sustain addiction recovery. The more recovery capital someone has, the better her chances of staying in recovery. Some aspects of recovery capital are easier to control than others. Some require cooperation from friends, family, and the community. Having a better understanding of recovery capital and gathering as much of it as possible improves your recovery in the long run. The following are the four main categories of recovery capital and why they matter.

Personal capital.

This includes physical and human capital. Physical capital is having your basic necessities met. You have a safe place to live, reasonably good health, enough income, food, and access to transportation. It’s very difficult to stay sober without the basics. Studies have shown that people who leave prison sober but don’t have basics like a job or a safe place to live are at much higher risk of relapse.

Human capital is basically all the things employers ask for. This includes knowledge, education, technical and interpersonal skills, motivation, problem solving skills, and values. These are probably the assets most under your control and improve your ability to acquire other forms of recovery capital.

Family or social capital.

These are all your relationships that make up your support system. This could be family, friends, or fellow 12-step members. The key thing is that you want people who are willing to actively participate in your recovery. Moral support is nice, but active support is better. This might mean participating in family therapy to work out the root causes of addiction, or willingness to engage in sober activities in a show of support.

Community capital.

The attitudes of your community matter when you are trying to stay sober. For example, it makes a big difference whether people in your community think addiction should be treated or punished. Having a community that is willing to support you and give you a chance is a huge advantage. Supportive communities are more likely to have more recovery resources, make more accommodations for treatment, and have more visible recovery role models. Unfortunately, you have very little influence over your community’s attitude toward addiction. You can always move to a more supportive community, but then you risk losing some of your family or social capital.

Cultural capital.

This goes with community capital. This has to do with cultural values. Different approaches to treatment may resonate better with certain cultural values. These often have to do with religion or cultural identity. Approaches to treatment that foster a sense of identity and inclusion are often more effective.

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