March 11, 2024 – Recovery capital is comprised of social, physical, cultural and human forms of capital. It consists of, but is not limited to, personal and social characteristics, networks, housing, access to transportation, community aspects, cultural values, and the friends, family members and others who might support the recovery process.

Recovery capital is a term for the collective elements in someone’s life, the internal and external resources they draw upon to help their potential for success to start — and sustain — the process leading to recovery from addiction.  Leading researchers, clinicians and policymakers from around the world will meet next month in Calgary, Alberta, for a conference devoted to recovery capital, a pioneering theory in the field of addiction recovery that was co-developed by UB faculty member Robert Granfield.

Granfield, professor of sociology and vice provost for faculty affairs, and William Cloud, now a retired professor in the University of Denver Graduate School of Social Work, were each faculty members at that university in the late 1990s when they conceptualized the theoretical foundations of recovery capital. The subsequent application, influence and expanding body of research related to recovery capital have all contributed to a paradigmatic shift in the science of addiction recovery, moving away from traditional ideas of willpower toward a more holistic approach.

The concept’s growth in 25 years is remarkable considering that Granfield and Cloud, despite their early evidence suggesting recovery capital’s role in overcoming addiction, couldn’t get federal funding to extend their initial research.

“We were initially told our work was unscientific and that it lacked validity,” Granfield says. “But within 10 years, we started seeing a growing science of recovery capital that took off in ways that were unimaginable at the time.”

Today, there are currently more than 150,000 unique websites that reference recovery capital.

“It’s so rewarding to have an entire conference focused on recovery capital,” Granfield says. “This will be the seventh of such conferences that began in 2017.”