Specialist Drug and Alcohol Rehab center in Spain

An unlikely hero? Challenging stigma through community engagement.

According to Goffman, stigma extensively discredits a person, reducing them “from a whole and usual person to a tainted, discounted one” (p. 3). The current paper shows how an innovative partnership model to employing excluded and vulnerable populations has not only provided hope and purpose for participants but has, through the resulting social enterprise, challenged stigma and exclusion. One particular incident is described as part of a broader process of challenging exclusion and stigmatisation, in this preliminary analysis of a recovery project that attempts reintegration through community improvement.

There is considerable evidence that stigma is a major problem for alcohol and other drug users and their families, with the World Health Organisation (2001) reporting that illicit drug use is the most stigmatised health condition in the world with alcohol dependence as the fourth most stigmatised. The UK Drug Policy Commission (2010) define stigma as “an indelible mark or a stain, and the term is generally applied to an attribute that makes a person unacceptable in other people’s eyes” (p. 1). The UKDPC goes on to suggest that stigma goes beyond stereotyping in that it often leads to prejudice and active discrimination. In a recent study on public attitudes to stigmatised behaviours, Phillips and Shaw (2013) not only demonstrated that substance misuse was more stigmatising than either obesity or smoking, but also that the general public have limited faith in recovery or desistance. Thus, participants retained a preference for social distance even towards those substance users who were described as being in recovery.

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Recovery, Ambitions, and Aspirations: An Exploratory Project to Build a Recovery Community by Generating a Skilled Recovery Workforce

A fundamental barrier to recovery is “negative recovery capital” in the form of barriers to access to housing and paid employment. Stable recovery rests not only on overcoming acute dependence, but also subsequently on developing supportive social networks, a safe place to live, meaningful activities, and a sense of purpose and hope. In the United Kingdom, the recovery movement has faced a huge challenge in translating early recovery into stable recovery because of limited access to housing and employment, and because of stigmatization of those in recovery. This article reviews a social enterprise model for engaging recovering people with an addiction in a building program linked to recovery housing, which also provides employment. The article is based on observations, in-depth qualitative interviews, and focus groups with participants in the program, and describes the social contagion of hope and the elevated aspirations associated with working and generating recovery housing. This model offers inspiration about personal transformation and aspiration that also contributes to the development of a therapeutic landscape of recovery.

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