Thriving in The Midst of Change: A Way Forward, & From Inception to Integration: The Origins and Growth of Recovery Capital

Dr. Ijeoma Achara-Abrahams & Dr. Robert Granfield

April 3rd, 11:00 am to 12:30

Exhibition Hall C – TELUS Convention Centre Calgary

Dr. Robert Granfield – From Inception to Integration: The Origins and Growth of Recovery Capital

About this Session

This presentation charts the development and expansion of the concept of recovery capital. Initially established in our qualitative study of self-remitters from addiction (Granfield and Cloud, 1999), the concept of recovery capital has since expanded broadly in the academic literature, within recovery-oriented groups, in treatment organizations, and in government policy circles. It has also spread outside the domain of substance abuse to include mental health, gambling, criminal justice, higher education, the workplace, and urban design. This presentation traces the intellectual foundations of the RC concept and explores the circulation, growth, and institutionalization of the concept.

Learning Objectives

1) To understand the origins of recovery capital as a construct;

2) To understand recovery capital as a general theory of recovery;

3) To understand the factors related to the growth and expansion of recovery capital theory.


1) Granfield, R. and Cloud, W. (1999). Coming Clean: Overcoming Addiction without Treatment. NewYork: New York University Press.

2) Cloud W., & Granfield, R. (2008). Conceptualizing recovery capital: expansion of a theoretical construct. Subst Use Misuse. 43(12-13):1971-86.

3) Bowen, E., Irish, A., Wilding, G., LaBarre, C., Capozziello, N., Nochajski, T., Granfield, R., andKaskutas, L. (2023). Development and psychometric properties of the Multidimensional Inventory of Recovery Capital (MIRC). Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 247.

4) Connolly, K., & Granfield, R. (2017). Building Recovery Capital: The Role of Faith-Based Communities in the Reintegration of Formerly Incarcerated Drug Offenders. Journal of Drug Issues, 47(3), 370-382.

5) Granfield R, Cloud W. (2001). Social context and “natural recovery”: The role of social capital in the resolution of drug-associated problems. Subst. Use Misuse, 36(11):1543–70.


Robert Granfield, along with William Cloud, coined the term recovery capital in their 1999 book, Coming Clean: Overcoming Addiction without Treatment. Dr. Granfield is currently Professor of Sociology and Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs at the University at Buffalo (UB) where he serves as senior executive officer responsible to the Provost for all matters pertaining to UB’s faculty. He has held previous academic positions at Harvard Law School, Middlebury College, the University of Denver, the Singapore Institute of Management, and Ottawa University where he served as the Fulbright Research Chair in International Humanitarian Law and Social Justice. He is the author of six books and over 80 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters covering a variety of topics including addiction, natural recovery, recovery capital, law and legal policy, legal education, legal profession, and US and international pro bono legal services. He has been principal investigator or co-principal investigation on numerous grants from the National Institute of Health, US Department of Health and Human Services, Woodrow Wilson Foundation, and Law School Admissions Council, among others. Dr. Granfield received his MA and PhD from Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts.

Dr. Ijeoma Achara – Abrahams – Thriving in The Midst of Change: A Way Forward

About this session:

We are at an exciting juncture in history. Building recovery capital is increasingly viewed as the foundation for building systems and services that position people with substance use conditions to flourish. Concepts of recovery are expanding beyond those that revolve around managing, reducing or eliminating substance use. Instead, recovery is beginning to be embraced as a more holistic experience that involves thriving – mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually.

Alongside, these exciting shifts, the pace of change can be challenging for service providers. Stress and overwhelm are increasingly larger challenges for service organizations today. Unprecedented, fast-moving, exhausting and unclear, are words that we frequently hear used to describe our current personal and professional experiences. In this context, it can be difficult for service providers to figure out their way forward. Even as we increasingly embrace these conceptual shifts related to recovery and recovery capital, how do we tangibly move towards them? Also, given our collective overwhelm, how do we find the capacity to innovate and fully leverage the transformational change that is occurring in our field?

In this high-energy and inspiring keynote, Dr. Achara will support participants in thinking through what is needed for not only those they serve to flourish, but also themselves. She will share tangible, impactful practices and examples that will help teams to operationalize recovery capital, understand their theory of change, and increase their impact in their everyday work. Just as critical, she will also explore some of the most critical factors that position us to personally thrive during this unprecedented time of change.

Participants will leave with tangible takeaways to increase effectiveness with the people that they serve as well as a clearer sense of what they personally need to be their personal best and to lead high impact teams. The result? A lasting impact well after the Recovery Capital Conference is over.

Learning Objectives

1. Participants will have an expanded definition of recovery

2. Participants will be able to articulate a theory of change for promoting recovery.3. Participants will be able to provide

3 examples of how to operationalize recovery capital in their work

4. Participants will be able to articulate 3 critical factors that boost their personal resilience during systems change efforts

5. Participants will be able to articulate 3 factors that help to develop resilient, high performing teams that successfully navigate systems change


White, W. & Cloud, W. (2008). Recovery capital: A primer for addictions professionals. Counselor, 9(5), 22-27.
Best, D. & Hennessey, E. The Science of Recovery Capital. Where do we go from here? Addiction. 2022 Apr; 117(4): 1139–1145.
Cano I, Best D, Edwards M, Lehman J. Recovery capital pathways: Modelling the components of recovery wellbeing. Drug Alcohol Depend. 2017;181(Journal Article):11–9.


Dr. Achara-Abrahams has more than a decade of experience helping behavioral health systems move from reactive to recovery-oriented approaches. As Director of Strategic Planning at the Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services, Dr. Achara led Philadelphia’s cutting-edge recovery-oriented system of care (ROSC) transformation effort, which included managing the change process, designing and implementing strategies to empower people in recovery to play integral roles in systems change and to expand and integrate peer services, and aligning policies and clinical practices with a recovery-orientation. Prior to leading Philadelphia’s successful ROSC transformation, Dr. Achara was a faculty member in the Yale School of Medicine Program on Recovery and Community Health, where she supported Connecticut’s recovery transformation efforts.Dr. Achara formed Achara Consulting in 2008 specifically to help state and local governments and provider organizations envision, plan, implement, and manage transformative approaches to implementing ROSC. A key element of her approach is working early on with an expansive set of stakeholders to develop a shared vision with widespread community support.

Alberta model