Mapping the recovery stories of drinkers and drug users in Glasgow: Quality of life and its associations with measures of recovery capital

David Best, Jane Gow, Tony Knox, Avril Taylor, Teodora Groshkova, William White

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

98 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction and Aims. The study investigates what 'recovery' means for those who describe themselves as in alcohol or drug recovery. Design and Methods. The project used multiple methods-snowballing, recruitment through recovery groups and advertisements in local press-to recruit 205 people (107 in alcohol and 98 in heroin recovery) who reported a lifetime dependence on alcohol and/or heroin; had not used their primary substance in the last year and perceived themselves to be either recovered or in recovery. They were interviewed by researchers using a structured questionnaire reported in the current paper and a semi-structured interview reported elsewhere. Results. The average time dependent for heroin users was 10.8years and for drinkers 15.7years, but onset and desistance were earlier for heroin. Longer time since last use of alcohol or heroin was associated with better quality of life. Greater engagement in meaningful activities was associated with better functioning, and was associated with quality of life, followed by number of peers in recovery in the social network. Heroin users in abstinent recovery generally reported better functioning than those in maintained recovery. Discussion and Conclusions. Recovery experiences vary widely, but better functioning is typically reported after longer periods and is associated with supportive peer groups and more engagement in meaningful activities, and supports models promoting the development of peer networks immersed in local communities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)334-341
Number of pages8
JournalDrug and Alcohol Review
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - May 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Addiction career
  • Meaningful activity
  • Peer support
  • Quality of life
  • Recovery

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