A UB social work researcher has introduced a new tool for treating alcohol and drug addiction


Wednesday, May 10, 2023 08:35 PM

at the University of Buffalo

A multidisciplinary team led by a University at Buffalo social work researcher has developed and tested a new assessment tool that has the potential to help people recover from alcohol and drug addiction.

Multipurpose Inventory of Recovery Capital (MIRC)In the year A 2020 grant of nearly $408,000 from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism is a reliable measure of wealth that contributes to an individual’s successful recovery. MIRC is not the first tool of its kind to be developed to address alcohol and drug problems, but its robust design differs from similar tools that have come before it and builds entirely on the concept of recovery capital.

A study published in the last issue of the magazine Drug and alcohol addiction It explains the process of developing and testing the team’s MIRC.

Not all people are equally equipped for success when embarking on a recovery journey, and the unique set of life circumstances that fill each person’s environment can help or hinder their efforts. Those shared life factors are known as recovery capital, a term for the various social, physical, human, and cultural resources that support a person’s recovery efforts. Recovery capital includes everything from friends and family, money and stable housing, knowledge, health behaviors and community-level resources.

Restorative capital shifts the restorative narrative from a focus on consent from traditional notions to a holistic view. It’s a discussion about resource availability, not initiatives. But it’s a two-sided coin. Although often seen in terms of supportive elements, recovery capital also includes negative capital or those who make recovery more difficult, such as family members who do not understand addiction.

Knowing the specific capital associated with the early stages of recovery is important, but it requires reliable action to find what is available and what is not. And that’s what MIRC offers, according to Elizabeth Bowen, PhD, associate professor at UB’s School of Social Work (SSW) and first author of the study.

The MIRC is a tool that measures positive and negative factors in the four resilience capitals (social, physical, human and cultural).

“Measuring recovery capital is important to understanding the inequities that impact recovery,” Bowen said. “Without good metrics, it’s hard to gauge which teams are likely to have more resources and which teams are likely to struggle.

“Ultimately, I’m interested in doing something to address those differences, and MIRC can provide the needed momentum.”

Bowen’s research team developed the MIRC in three phases, starting with a group of 44 individuals with a list of potential factors shared by service providers or people in recovery.

“We want an initial response to our questions,” Bowen said. “We’ve made a lot of adjustments and revisions from phase one feedback.”

The team then tested the abstract measure on a sample of 497 people who had recovered from an alcohol problem (alcohol alone or with other drugs). Psychometric testing, a standard method for determining item fit and reliability, indicated how the items performed and observed differences between respondents.

“After this step, we made further changes to the scale before testing the revised draft with a new sample of 482 participants,” Bowen said. This is how we arrived at our psychometric statistics showing that the MIRC is a measure of recovery capital with good reliability, validity, and discrimination.

That final measure, or “inventory,” as Bowen sometimes calls it, is a novel tool that explores the positive and negative capitals listed in the four categories, tied to the concept of recovery capital.

“We’ve also, most importantly, amplified the voices of people in recovery at scale,” Bowen said. “We made every effort to use a racial, ethnic, economic, and gender-diverse sample at each test stage, and to consider differences in recovery experiences such as those who received treatment, those who did not, those who did not, and those who did not were excluded and unavailable.”

MIRC is officially available for download from UB School of Social Work website.

“I encourage anyone who might benefit from MIRC to download a copy,” Bowen said. “This can be a tool for reflection or self-assessment; a clinic working with people in recovery can use the MIRC as part of the assessment process. It can serve as a starting point for social workers and clients to discuss strengths, weaknesses, and where to go to help people resolve their capital.”

There is also a resource for further study on recovery and recovery trends.

“I’m excited to have this measurement tool in the world so we can evaluate recovery capital and address existing inequities,” Bowen said.

Bowen’s research team includes Andrew Irish, Ph.D., assistant professor of social work at West Virginia University and the 2022 UB SSW Ph.D. program Gregory Wilding, PhD, professor of biostatistics in the UB School of Public Health and Health Professions; Charles LaBarre, MSW, doctoral student in the UB SSW and Addictions Institute at the UB Clinical and Research Institute; Nicole Capozillo, MSW, doctoral candidate at UB SSW; Thomas Nochajski, PhD, retired research professor at UB SSW; Robert Granfield, PhD, UB professor of sociology, vice provost for faculty affairs and co-developer of restorative capital theory; and Lee Ann Cascutas, Dr.PH, senior scientist emerita of the Alcohol Research Group.

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