Bankable recovery

I love the idea of ‘recovery capital’.

Not only is it a key idea that has transformed recovery practice from focusing on pathology to going out and getting a better life, but it also says, “Hey, I’ve got assets, I’ve got capital, and that’s  a fine thing in this world.”

Simply put, recovery capital is the sum of all those inner and outer resources that we muster to initiate and sustain long-term recovery from addiction. It’s personal capital, such as health, finances, shelter, food, knowledge, skills, self-awareness and self-esteem. It’s family or social capital in our relationships, social network and access to cool stuff to do when sober. It’s also community capital, in our recovery role models, peer support groups and culturally specific roads into recovery (like faith groups).

Put all these assets together, and you get the attitudes and resources that help you stay clean. For instance, make a small step better health and that’s a bankable asset on the road to recovery. Same goes for healing a close relationship, making a sober friend, sorting out your bills and your resentments, and talking to your family about your recovery path.

Interesting thing, when looking at addiction, we tend to automatically generate a list of problems (I can’t get a job, I can’t get a loan etc), which goes on to inform treatment planning. How about taking the idea of recovery capital, the stuff that keeps me clean, and asking ‘what resources need to be gotten together to support long-term recovery?’

As William White writes, “Recovery capital has a contagious quality. It’s time we all became its carriers.


References: White, W. & Cloud, W. (2008). Recovery capital: A primer for addictions professionals. Counselor, 9(5), 22-27. Find at

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