Photovoicing interconnected sources of recovery capital of women with a drug use history
An important contribution to the recovery debate relates to the construct of recovery capital, which builds on ideas of social capital and captures the resources that influence recovery processes. Recovery as a relational and contextual process shows the importance of ordinary environments, relationships and meaningful activities.
In this study we use arts-based research to better understand the factors that support the initiation of recovery and that sustain its growth. Attention is given to the impact on social integration and quality of life, including aspects of housing, employment and other meaningful activities, and family and community reintegration of women. The voices of women in recovery have long been absent in treatment studies and in the addiction recovery debate. Central research questions are: How does change becomes possible in people’s lives in relation to society as it is nowadays? How are peoples lived experiences shaped by the complex interplay between a person, his/her environment, structural barriers and facilitators? Using an innovative photovoice approach, we focus on the personal recovery stories and the different recovery pathways of women with a history of substance use problems (n=8), starting from their own perspectives. Photovoice – a participatory action-based research method – uses photography as a way to gain insight in individuals’ living situations and make them accessible to others. A directed approach to content analysis based on the conceptual framework of recovery capital was used to analyze the data. Four themes were identified as building stones for initiating and maintaining recovery: 1) (Re-)building me; 2) Untangling what’s life and what’s addiction; 3) Becoming (re-)connected; and 4) Perspectives on the future. The results highlight the complexities and positive and negative dynamics of recovery capital in relation to gender and other social structures. Overall, there is a strong interconnectedness between gender, socio-economic status, age, and societal values and expectations.