Classic Blog – ‘How do I know a treatment service is recovery-oriented?’ by Mark Ragins

Some treatment services today say they are doing recovery – using recovery-based care – when they are not in fact doing so. So how do you know that you are going to receive genuine recovery-based care when you sign up to a treatment service claiming to be recovery-oriented?

Here is some help from Mark Ragins, a leading figure in the mental health recovery field, about what to look for in a service offering recovering-based care. Mark may be talking about mental health recovery, but what he says is of relevance to addiction recovery.

In summary, Mark emphasises three key features of recovery-based care:

1. Is the service person-centered rather than illness-centered?
Is it focused on your addiction, or is it focused on helping you build a better life? “Is all of you included there, your strengths, your weaknesses, your hopes, your dreams, your goals…” Does it look at where you going to live, where you going to work, your friends, your family… or is it all about your addiction?”

“Recovery programmes are not just about treating your illness, they are about helping you build your whole life.”

2. Recovery programmes move from being professional driven to being client-driven
Medical-based care has a professional assesses you, diagnose you, provide you with a treatment, check your compliance and see whether you get better.

The recovery approach says that you are going to have to take a strong role in your recovery. Your goals have to drive the process. There needs to be shared decision making, a collaboration or partnership between you and your helper. This is very different to the classical medical model.

3. Is the programme really strengths-based rather than deficits-based?
Do you spend all your time talking with the practitioner about what is wrong and about how they are going to fix your problems? Or do you talk what is right about you? “What are your strengths? Do you bring a strong self-esteem, work ethic, belief in your self…” etc.

Mark talks about the recovery approach helping you deal with your mental health problems if they surface again by preparing you to deal with them.

“Do we build the strength in you to handle your life, rather than you rely on me to fix all the wrong things with you.”