Glasgow study reveals addiction recovery factors

Man holding syringe Addicts require support from other recovering addicts, said the study

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Researchers believe they have identified some of the critical factors that determine whether alcoholics and heroin users can recover.

A study of more than 200 people in Glasgow found that spending time with other recovering addicts made success more likely.

Another predictor of success was whether addicts had something else in their lives to focus on, such as work.

The findings are due to be discussed at a conference in Glasgow.

The research was led by Dr David Best, a reader in criminal justice at the University of the West of Scotland.

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We found that the quality of life maintained by people in methadone maintained recovery wasn't as good as for people in abstinent recovery”

End Quote Dr David Best Researcher

He told the BBC's Good Morning Scotland programme: "Addiction becomes an all-consuming and all-encompassing thing for people

"In order for them to meaningfully sustain a recovery, it means it's not sufficient to have just clinical interventions.

"There have to be a range of replacement activities and the more socially and community-based they are - including things like volunteering, parenting, education and training and obviously working - the more that void is filled and the more successfully individuals manage to build up an architecture of life that replaces that time spent in active addiction."

The study also considered the role that methadone played in recovery.

Dr Best said: "Certainly as far as our research was concerned, we found that the quality of life maintained by people in methadone maintained recovery wasn't as good as for people in abstinent recovery.

"It fits with previous research that we've done which has shown that there are some long-term effects of methadone, particularly around cognitive functioning, which may act as a mechanism for blunting the aspiration and hope and quality of life.

"It doesn't mean recovery's not possible in methadone but there may be some limitations to the extent of it."

'Challenges faced'

The study, which marks the first Recovery Academy conference in the city, drew parallels between alcoholism and heroin addiction.

Researchers said few differences were noted in the paths to recovery.

Community Safety Minister Fergus Ewing, one of the speakers at the conference, said: "The Scottish government's national drugs strategy, the Road to Recovery, recently reconfirmed by the Scottish Parliament, provides the framework for a fundamental change in our approach to tackling problem drug use through a focus on recovery.

"The Recovery Academy conference, the first of its kind in Scotland, provides the perfect platform for assessing the progress that is being made through this enhanced focus.

"Recovery from serious drug addiction is possible and the research being presented today clearly enhances our knowledge of the challenges faced."

The event, taking place at the city's Woodside Halls, is part of the wider Recovery Weekend, which invites people dealing with the effects of addiction, their families and friends to gather in Glasgow to meet and share ideas.

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