Study of substance misuse recovery leadership NW

by andrew-macdonald- in Liverpool

We did it
On 24th June 2015 we successfully raised £140 with 3 supporters in 28 days

A study of the substance misuse recovery movement in the North West through the eyes of its leaders to learn how it might best grow.

by andrew-macdonald- in Liverpool

A study of the substance misuse recovery movement in the North West through the eyes of its leaders to learn how it might thrive.


£1500 is required to ensure that the messages from this important study are available to the field as soon as possible.


Public research funding monies are proving extremely hard to come by for the study in the present austerity climate, despite extensive support from the field and from academe for this original work. 


Project aim: To explore the new phenomenon of the substance misuse recovery movement in the North West through the eyes of its elite and select national figures.


About the project:


The study is under the auspices of the North West Recovery Forum Leadership representing all of the recovery and mutual aid organizations in the North West of England - recognized nationally and internationally as a hub of recovery and mutual aid. The study is part of a 3 year PhD at Liverpool John Moores University Centre for Public Health. The study is currently being self-funded by the author.


Why Am I Crowd funding?


The £1,500 is to complete the professional transcription of the remaining interviews and for the wider dissemination of the findings at a series of events. If the project is overfunded that money will go towards the costs of the production of monographs and a book on the stories of the elite leaders of recovery and mutual aid in the UK.


Thus far I have self financed the project.


Liverpool John Moores University has kindly met the cost of the transcription of 10 interviews.


Over 2 days of recordings have been taken during in-depth interviews. This needs professionally transcribing. The funding will raise awareness at a strategic leadership / policy / practice / commissioning / fundraising level about key issues and to seek ways forwards for recovery and mutual aid.




Leading national academic and policy figures in the field supports the study. The North West Leadership Forum is supporting the study. The group comprises of the strategic leaders of the substance misuse recovery and mutual aid movement in the North West. The study is supported by the Centre for Public Health and aligns with the developmental work around the ‘ABCD’ Asset Based Community Development Model.


About Me:

After a public sector career across Public Health, Forensic Mental Health, and Criminal Justice, including significant work as a commissioner for the Home Office, Probation Service, NHS and Public Health I am undertaking a PhD study of elite interviews about the emergence of the substance misuse recovery movement in the North West UK. I have previously undertaken qualitative research in the substance misuse and social care field and have a special interest in drugs, alcohol and mental health, as well as community asset development. I previously worked at a national level designing treatment systems. I was formerly a member of the London Drug and Alcohol Policy Forum. I was recently invited to join the board of a new Community Interest Company in Manchester. I was also invited onto the evaluation advisory group at the Centre for Public Health of a Comic Relief and Russell Brand funded project assessing the impact of the funding on local social capital in 4 sites.


The Objectives of the study:


- To capture individual life stories and articulate the recent story of the recovery movement in the North West of England.

- To examine addiction recovery as a public health discourse notably the 'fifth wave of public health' (Hanlon, 2012)

- To compare local notions of addiction recovery in the North West over the last 10 years with the chronological development of earlier discourses both in the United Kingdom and in the United States.


The study will seek to answer some key questions:


Is recovery and mutual aid a social movement?

More fundamentally, what do the elite leaders see as the mission of recovery and mutual aid?

If recovery and mutual aid has the potential to become a social movement in hard pressed inner cities, how will the array of new organizations grow, from small, highly localized roots?

For recovery to drive wider public health and wellbeing social contagion how will it best become more visible in local communities, given many of its members belong to an anonymous organization?

As recovery and mutual aid become more visible how do its members might best fit into local communities?

The study will build on the existing evidence base around recovery and mutual aid.

To date there has not been an elite study of the leaders of the recovery and mutual aid movement in the UK.

The study builds on earlier service user level work in Glasgow and Birmingham, and locality level studies of recovery contagion potential in Yorkshire, Lancashire, The Wirral and Merseyside (Best 2012, Best 2014, Best 2015).


Some of the new knowledge the study may reveal includes:


Where does recovery and mutual aid sit in the system?

What challenges do the new leaders and their organizations face?

How do we best develop the new workforce alongside the old?

Can the old organizations help?

How should recovery and mutual aid be measured?

How might tackling homelessness, worklessness, social disconnection and family breakdown in this group act as a beacon for other groups?

Not everyone in recovery will become a drug and alcohol worker – what else might they become?

Is recovery and mutual aid a wider social movement?

What is the mission of the movement?

Is recovery and mutual aid contagious?

Is it part of Asset Based Community Development? (ABCD)

How will a largely anonymous movement become visible?

How will the variety of recovery and mutual aid leaders and their equally varied organizations work to a common goal?

What can recovery and mutual aid offer public health?

Is the movement a broker between government and people about health and wellbeing?

Who should pay for recovery and mutual aid?


Products and Outputs:


  • To support addiction researchers and practitioners engaged in treatment or harm reduction.
  • To preserve the innovation in the addictions field.
  • To communicate the evidence base to inform policy and practice.


This project offers rewards in return for your donation.

£10 or more

£10 Reward

A thank you for believing in my project!

£20 or more

£20 Reward

A thank you for believing in my project!

£50 or more

£50 Reward

A thank you for believing in my project!

Got an idea like this?

Over £100 million has been raised from our crowd to support the projects they love! Plus tens of millions more unlocked by our partners.