Simply put, recovery capital is everything you have working to your advantage when you’re trying to stay sober. In economic terms, capital is anything you own that makes you more money–your assets. Assets might include factories, copyrights, rental properties, or stocks. The more assets you have making money for you, the more money you make. Similarly, recovery capital tips the scales in your favor. The more recovery capital you have, the better your chances of a successful recovery.

On the other hand, you can also have recovery liabilities. Just as a depreciating house or excess debt can take money out of your pocket, recovery liabilities can make recovery much harder. These might include spending time with friends who still drink or use drugs or having a stressful job, especially if it gives you easy access to drugs or alcohol. The good news is that the more recovery capital you accumulate, the more easily you can overcome setbacks and sustain recovery. Recovery capital falls into the following categories.


Physical recovery capital

Physical recovery capital covers the very basics of what you need for a successful recovery. This includes, first, a clean, safe place to live where you won’t be tempted by drugs or alcohol. While most people will have this covered, it’s something you can’t take for granted. You also need your other basic needs met. These include having enough to eat, having clean clothes, and having access to transportation. Physical health is also a great asset but if your health isn’t great early in recovery, as is often the case, it will improve as you make healthy lifestyle changes.

Once those basic needs have been met, any additional physical recovery capital only improves your chances. This might include insurance, savings, and extra income. These all lower stress and give you more financial resources to deal with problems.


Personal recovery capital

Personal recovery capital, sometimes called human recovery capital, comprises all the things no one can take away from you. This includes your values, intelligence, technical skills, education, knowledge, credentials, interpersonal skills, and personal attributes such as conscientiousness, drive, and optimism. These are the kinds of things employers tend to look for but they’re even more valuable as recovery capital. Personal recovery capital can be the most difficult and time-consuming to build, but it is also the most useful and most rewarding. Communication skills, coping skills, and life skills are among the most important elements of personal recovery capital.


Social recovery capital

Social capital comprises all your relationships, including intimate relationships, a family of origin and family of choice, friends, colleagues, and acquaintances who are supportive of your recovery. These are the people close to you who are willing to participate in your recovery and who are perhaps in recovery themselves. These are people you can talk to freely about recovery and with whom you can spend time and have fun in ways that support sobriety.

Social recovery capital is perhaps the most important form of recovery capital, although different forms of recovery capital are important at different stages of recovery, and every form is helpful in some way. However, since social recovery capital comprises the people closest to you, these people tend to have the most influence over your behavior. Not only do they play a part in forming your values and behavioral expectations but they are also around you the most and so play an important role in keeping you accountable. More than that, a supportive social network can give you a sense of belonging and purpose, which is great for emotional health and sobriety. This is why creating a strong sober network is among the top priorities for anyone leaving treatment. Getting involved in a mutual-aid group, such as a 12-step program right away, is one of the fastest ways to build a sober network.


Community recovery capital

Community recovery capital includes all the resources available to you in your community if you need them. These might include a continuum of addiction treatment resources, accessible and diverse mutual aid programs, community support institutions, such as clubs or alumni associations, and sustained recovery support, such as employee programs, drug courts, and recovery community organizations. More broadly, community capital also includes your community’s attitudes towards addiction and treatment, especially efforts to reduce the stigma associated with addiction and support people in recovery.

The more forms of recovery capital you acquire, the more resilient you will be in the face of recovery’s inevitable setbacks. These setbacks include lack of motivation, life stress, interpersonal conflict, and peer pressure. Since recovery capital operates on different levels you have more options for dealing with different challenges.

When you’re in a treatment program, these bases are all covered. A quality treatment facility will ensure you have a safe, clean place to live while helping you develop personal capital and facilitating social connections. Any resources you may need are easily accessible and the staff strives to create a supportive environment. However, the real concern is when you leave treatment and have to adjust to daily life without the structure, support, and social connection fostered by your treatment program. Making this transition successfully can be tricky and it’s a major reason many people do well in treatment only to relapse a short time later.

Success in recovery depends on building as much recovery capital as possible as quickly as possible, which can be challenging. A personal recovery assistant can help with many aspects of the transition from treatment to daily life, including building recovery capital.

Hired Power is a transitional service offering individualized addiction recovery assistance from crisis intervention to the first year of recovery and beyond. Some of our services include getting clients into detox and treatment, finding an appropriate treatment center for a client’s specific needs, helping clients transition from treatment to daily living, providing mentorship, sober assistance, and other services. Explore our website or call us at 800-910-9299 for more information.