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Given its history of progressing ideas and research into practice, the RSA has, since 2012 been implementing its Whole Person Recovery system at scale. The RSA has worked in partnership with Crime Reduction Initiatives (CRI) to coproduce initiatives that help to build recovery capital in West Kent.

People who have a history of alcohol or drug abuse also face a myriad of other issues such as deprivation, mental health problems, housing issues, lack of employability and isolation from their community. The Whole Person Recovery worked in partnership with clinical services to unleash the power of recovery communities; building and strengthening recovery capital, and therefore the sustainability of a person's recovery in the longer term.

Our work is based on the seminal report ‘Drugs: Facing Facts’ published by the Commission on Illegal Drugs (RSA, 2007). Proposing a ‘whole person’ approach to drug and alcohol misuse, the Commission emphasised the role that individuals play during a sustainable recovery process, taking into account people often face a range of other challenges that can both drive and be symptoms of substance misuse.

The RSA’s Whole Person Recovery project aimed to understand in a holistic way how problematic drug and alcohol users become trapped in cycles of addiction, what helps or hinders their journey to recovery, and how their recovery can be sustained. We did so not merely to contribute some fresh insight into this complex and important problem, although this is clearly important, but to make the insight a catalyst for service users themselves, and members of their communities, to foster recovery through their collective social effort and innovation.

Broadly, our aims were to:

  • Improve outcomes for individuals and the community through developing the Power to Create within the West Kent Recovery community and the wider community through developing and applying the Whole Person Recovery (WPR) model as part of the West Kent Recovery Service (WKRS). We did this by co-producing a range of initiatives with the local community to engage people into positive networks that encourage support and skill development. We also ran a small grants scheme available for individuals or wider recovery community groups.
  • Capture and disseminate the learning from applying the programme within a commissioning environment in general and under a Payment by Results system in particular.
  • Ensure improvements in outcomes are sustained beyond the life of the project through the use of coproduced initiatives. This included the further development of the Research and Innovation Team (RAIT), a group of peer researchers who all have personal experience of addiction and recovery, and conduct social research at a local level.

This was an exciting and ambitious piece of work that required a 'whole RSA' approach. The project ran from 2012 to 2015 and we have worked with a number of local Fellows. However, we are always keen to hear from anyone who is interested in the project in coproducing recovery capital. 

Engage with our research


Visit YouTube to watch our short film designed to encourage more GPs to understand their role in the recovery process and engage in a far more positive manner. This film was developed and filmed with local people in recovery - mostly drawn from Arun EXACT.

You can watch the development of the film storyboard below.


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