Somewhere to be: the spatiality’s of alcohol abuse and recovery in a non-interventionist, peer led centre.
Relevant literature suggests that recovery from substance and alcohol use is a gradual process involving profound psychological changes but also grounded in social relationships and supportive networks. It has been argued that recovery could be better approached as a social rather than a solely individualised pathway, while an extensive amount of literature evidences the role of communities as potential resources for recovery. Drawing on literature from health geography, we examine the characteristics of a social space dedicated to individuals in active alcohol use with complex needs and the ways in which such spaces can afford resources that facilitate the initiation of recovery. We conducted semi-structured interviews with 12 service users and volunteers from a non-abstinence peer-led centre for alcohol and drug users which functions as a social drop-in space employing a non-interventionist approach and providing a daily schedule of social activities. Transcribed interviews were coded independently, and themes were discussed and negotiated within data sessions in order to achieve consensus' between researchers. Findings suggest that individuals with marginalised and/or complex needs might not prioritise recovery. Peer led spaces employing a non-interventionist ethos can afford varying degrees of resources that reduce the negative recovery capital of such individuals by: 1) acting as a temporal and spatial alternative for active use, occupying time and space that would be spent in isolation or using; 2) gradually assisting in opening up the, otherwise, restricted and isolated social and relational space of addiction and strengthening the sense of social identity; and 3) acting as recovery ‘connectors’ and facilitating progression to more organised recovery oriented groups and services. Implications for research and practice are discussed.