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European drug survey to investigate recovery

January 15, 2018

A new European survey aimed at understanding how drug addicts have achieved successful recovery has been launched. The Life in Recovery survey is part of the REC-Path project, which is investigating different types of recovery from drug addiction across four countries in Europe (England, Scotland, Belgium and the Netherlands) in order to give policymakers a strong evidence base for making future policy and legislation related to drug addiction and recovery. The REC-Path survey was launched at a special event at Sheffield Hallam University, attended by policy advisers, commissioners, recovery specialists, researchers and people in recovery from across Europe.

The project is being led by Sheffield Hallam University's Helena Kennedy Centre for International Justice in partnership with Ghent University (Belgium), IVO Addiction (Netherlands), University of Manchester, University College Ghent, and is funded by the European Research Area Network on Illicit Drugs (ERANID).


The aim is to map and understand the successful routes people take to achieve recovery: mutual aid, peer-based support, residential and community treatment, specialist treatment, or through their own 'natural recovery'. One of the key questions is whether men and women typically have different paths to recovery.

Online survey

The online survey, which is hoping to receive thousands of responses across the four countries, is open to people who consider themselves to be in recovery from addiction, or have not used illicit drugs problematically for at least 3 months. The results of the survey and potential implications on policy are expected to be announced in early 2019.

The research team is asking those who have regular contact with people in recovery (GPs, social workers, substance misuse workers, counsellors) to share the survey with their networks through social media, email, digital media, posters and in person.

Investigating different kinds of recovery pathways

World-renowned recovery expert, Professor David Best, who is the lead for the project, hopes that investigating different kinds of recovery pathways in the 4 countries will show that former addicts can have healthy futures. Professor Best said: ‘More than half of addicts manage to kick drugs permanently. This survey will allow us to investigate how they do it and how we can best support them.'

Identifying successful pathways

The study will focus mainly on identifying successful pathways to recovery and how the available options to support recovery are combined. We assume a 'strength-based recovery model' in which all kinds of professional therapy and peer-based models support each other, through building strengths and reintegrating into communities. Quitting in itself is not enough. It is possible to overcome an addiction but it needs sustaining support from society. Stable recovery also depends on employment, housing, friendships and quality of life.

More information

The survey and information about the project can be accessed at www.rec-path.co.uk. The project can also be followed on Twitter and Facebook.

Press information

For press information: Please contact Martin Webb in the Sheffield Hallam University press office on +44 (0)114 225 2621 or email m.webb(at)shu.ac.uk.