Home > Addiction recovery: a contagious paradigm! A case for the re-orientation of drug treatment services and rehabilitation services in Ireland.

Keane, Martin and McAleenan, Gerry and Barry, Joseph (2014) Addiction recovery: a contagious paradigm! A case for the re-orientation of drug treatment services and rehabilitation services in Ireland. Dublin: Soilse.

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Rehabilitation, or recovery as it more appropriately should be termed, has been the poor relation of Ireland’s response to illicit drug use, particularly opiate addiction, where most of the resources have been directed over the past 20 years. This paper – Addiction Recovery: A contagious paradigm! – makes the case to correct this. The initiative grew out of Soilse’s 20th anniversary symposium in the summer of 2012.There are three components to the paper: a review of the literature, a critique of Irish policy in relation to recovery/rehabilitation and the outputs of the Soilse symposium (workshops and personal narratives of people in recovery). The three components point in the same direction: it is time to prioritise recovery.

Addiction recovery is becoming the guiding principle for substance use treatment in a number of jurisdictions. The latest EU Action Plan on Drugs (2013 2016) calls on member states to implement recovery and social reintegration services as part of a wider demand reduction pillar. Policy on drugs in the USA is increasingly promoting recovery and recovery support services. A conceptual framework for promoting recovery and a detailed discussion of recovery principles is given in this paper.

A reading of Irish drug policy documents from the past 20 years demonstrates a strong and consistent advocacy for recovery which would lead one to wonder why there hasn’t been more action. Non-implementation of policy is an area we can improve on. Coupling treatment and rehabilitation in our current strategy has been detrimental to recovery initiatives and now is the time to have a genuine fifth pillar – recovery – as part of Ireland’s response to substance use. Stakeholder consultations as part of the development of previous strategies has shown wide support for the responses advocated by best international research and practice in the field of recovery.

There are increasing calls in the literature to draw on the experiences of people in recovery as a means of building effective policy and practice. This paper draws on the outputs of a symposium on recovery held in the North Inner City in the summer of 2012. Over 100 people attended the symposium, the vast majority living with or working in communities deeply stigmatized by opiate addiction. The four workshop themes were: recovery and research, clients and their recovery, recovery and services, and, finally, recovery and communities. The recommendations from the workshops, adopted in this paper, are grounded in experiences of people in recovery. The symposium also heard detailed testimony from four individuals in recovery. The individuals highlighted what worked for them and what did not.

Chapter 8 of this paper charts a way forward. The recommendations are not radical: indeed, many are already policy but not practice. This paper is being published as a call to action to adopt recovery principles and practices in Ireland’s substance use services

Item Type
Publication Type
Irish-related, Report
Drug Type
All substances
Intervention Type
General / Comprehensive, Drug therapy, Treatment method, Psychosocial treatment method, Rehabilitation/Recovery, Policy
July 2014
Call No
JP24, AH18, VH4.2
76 p.
Place of Publication
Accession Number
HRB 5251 (Available), HRB 5252 (Available), HRB 5253 (Available)
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