Increasing Recovery Capital

In this section, you’ll learn how recovery capital can play a key role in helping a person maintain their recovery. You will be about to:

  • Define recovery capital
  • Explain cultural and social aspects of recovery capital
  • Discuss key components of recovery capital

What is recovery capital?

You may have heard the term ‘social capital’ or ‘political capital.’ In some ways recovery capital and all those other terms fit. If you have a zero balance in your checking account, you can’t buy anything without an overdraft. But if you keep depositing small amounts, you soon can make bigger purchases.


The recovery capital concept was developed by a lot of people who have written about recovery, but the works of William White really promoted its use. In the paper defining the Recovery Capital Scale, he defines it as: “… the volume of internal and external assets that can be brought to bear to initiate and sustain recovery…” He also compiles checklist and planning tips for increasing recovery capital.

William White Papers

Tools and Strategies

More information on some of the cultural and socials aspect of recovery capital can be found on the Peer Support Core Concept: Recovery Capital document.

The following resources are checklists that can be used to assess recovery capital. Both are long lists, but it may help people focus on increasing their scores and can also measure how much progress they have made!


Assessment of Recovery Capital

Recovery Capital Assessment Interview Tool

Community Resources

Recovery is the beginning of many things, not just an end to active mental health and addictive disorders. Peer support specialist can help people find community resources that help people making a new start. For example, there are job training programs, community health centers, housing programs, and public libraries. Legal aid and advocacy groups are to be also available.

These community supports help ensure people have access to the ‘social determinants’ of recovery. For example, some of the essentials include safe housing, healthcare, connections to other people in recovery, work, or other meaningful activities, and to be part of a community. SAMHSA summarizes these essentials as: Home, Health, Purpose, and Community.

Building Recovery Supports

Strong allies may include friends, relatives, other recovering people, community recovery organizations, and faith-based supports. In some communities, recovering people gather at a center, club, or organization. They work to provide services for people in or seeking recovery and their families, and may offer a range of supports, such as peer recovery coaching, clean and sober social activities, and assistance locating appropriate housing and employment. The mapping tool below helps people identify their allies and expand their network.

Who Is In My Corner?

This tool helps people map out their support network and think about ways to expand it.

Instructions: List the names of people in your life under the category they where they fit best.

  • Which ones are supporters and allies?  Put a star next to them.
  • Which ones might provide practical help?  Put a check next to them.
  • Which ones can stress you out or might be tempting to use drugs or alcohol around? Circle them.
  • When you are done, look at your network. What do you have too much of?  What do you have too little of?

Recovery Community Connections

Being around people who are working on recovery can help people feel less alone and more hopeful. Peer recovery specialist are uniquely qualified to help people connect to self-help support groups and resources. Most people have no idea of how many options exist. Sometimes people benefit from attending a group or meeting for the first time with someone, or they may ask about the groups or meeting that are reliable. Peers have this kind of informal knowledge about the recovery community.

Sometimes people need a little more information about the purpose of connecting with others in recovery. You can remind them they do not have to become best friends or hang out all the time at groups, but they may want to check out a recovery community center, if there is one nearby, attend a few different support groups or meetings, and check out the incredible number of choices online.

Leadership and Advocacy

At some point, peer recovery specialists will work with people who may be ready to give back. Helping people discover how they want to get involved is a wonderful process for all. Some people want to work with others that have experienced homelessness, others may be keen on working with youth, advocating for mothers in recovery, bilingual support groups, advocating for immigrants and refugees, faith-based service, or overdose prevention. Others may want to prioritize parenting and family.  In recovery, we become leaders in our own live and never know when we become leaders in the lives of the people we touch.