Informal social support as a crucial factor in recovery from drug misuse
Although the recovery from addiction, in Europe, has been moving forward to include contextual factors in interventions, there are still major literature gaps to be addressed, especially concerning to the need for informal social support in drug users lives.
This research is a part of DURESS project, an international study involving Italy, France and Portugal, funded by SICAD (General Directorate for Intervention on Addictive Behaviours and Dependencies), in the ambit of ERANID European project and implemented by FPCEUP (Faculty of Psychology and Education Sciences of the University of Porto). It aims to bring to light the contextual factors which have impact in the recovery from drug misuse, using original and unexplored sources, based in drug users’ experiences and opinions. We hope these results can inform user-friendly future interventions.
About 25 drug users were recruited in outpatient centers, but only 14 actively participating. The participants were followed for 6 months (on average), with meetings happening weekly, biweekly or monthly. The method used was Individual Qualitative Health Diaries, where drug users wrote, with the researcher’s help, about their daily experiences, feelings, needs, thoughts, as well as their critics and suggestions to the system.
Informal care emerged as a crucial factor to recovery from addiction, which can be felt in the relation with the family, friends, partner, neighbours or even with health professionals. The results show the drug users’ need of having someone to talk about their problems and someone who supports them in many dimensions of their lives. Thus, the feeling of acceptance, understanding and connection appeared to be fundamental in the process.
These findings show the importance of building solid social networks among drug users lives and doing interventions with their families. It also shows the relevance of having psychological help and good relationships with the practitioners. Therefore, these results only reinforce the need of designing more inclusive and less repressive policies and treatments, based in unconditional acceptance, support and integration of the drug user in her/his environment, as well as in the whole society.