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Recovery Plus 14 Feb 2016 Expecting the impossible of service users. Many service provider-suggested measures of recovery expect service users to behave better and achieve more than ‘normal’ people – who can also break the law, get into debt, have bad relationships, become dependent on other people, lack self-awareness. Everyone feels anxiety, depression, loneliness, shame and guilt at some point – these are natural emotions, and feeling them can be progress. Also, measures such as good physical or mental health, can be impossible for some people with health problems. The dangers of perceived progress. Suggested outcomes such as having confidence/ feeling in control/experiencing self-belief were important to a point, but beyond that could result in people being complacent and relapsing. The hidden benefits of negative outcomes. If people in recovery did not experience tiredness or feel anxious, shame or guilt, they were probably not ‘working at their recovery’ and ‘did not care’. Tiredness, some participants emphasised, can feel satisfying at the end of a productive day, anxiety might signal new and interesting challenges, remorse for previous misdemeanors can be progress, contact with the criminal-justice system could mean legal help and protection – and the police, probation service and courts can fast track those with drink or drug problems into treatment. Contradictory measures. Focus group service users seemed increasingly bemused that some service providers’ measures appeared to contradict each other or were incompatible. For example, reduced and safer drug use were difficult to reconcile with abstinence, and accessing treatment and support (particularly residential) was considered somewhat inconsistent with being independent. Failure to recognise individual differences. Participants reported frustration that many service providers’ measures did not allow for individual differences and personal preferences. Whether or not somebody wanted or needed formal treatment or peer support, liked having lots of people round them, could cope with a full-time job, would be suited to voluntary work, or needed more education would depend on that individual. Furthermore, those differing wants and needs might relate to stage of recovery, gender and other demographic factors. Outcomes that negate the agency in recovery. Some provider-desired outcomes were simply physiological and ‘automatic’, occurring over time and, while markers of progress, should not be priorities. These include appetite and menstrual cycle returning. Entrenched vulnerabilities. The extent of some service users’ vulnerabilities – and thus the height of the bar set by some recovery measures – became apparent when issues such as ‘being able to trust people’, ‘not being lonely’ and ‘having good relationships with family’ were discussed. Service users from all groups emphasised that some people ‘cannot and should not be trusted’ and loneliness is preferable to friends who ‘become enemies’ and family members who let them down. The online issue of Recovery Plus will also link you to the author’s presentation at Recovery Plus 2015 – just click the logo shown below when you access us online: Click for presentation Click


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