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Is drug and alcohol recovery a risky business?

Posted in: Alcohol, Drugs by John Richmond on 21 May 2013
Tagged with: Delphi Medical

As drug and alcohol service providers, we are responsible for the recovery treatments we facilitate, just as we are those who seek them. Both services and the individuals that work within them consent to liability and risk in various forms.

So does the business of drug and alcohol recovery attract more risk than other areas of health? Read our recovery-oriented response:

A real concern
Practitioners are held accountable for encouraging patients to make the right choices, but this expectation of accountability is true of any profession. While the concern that offering drug and alcohol recovery services increases a provider's exposure to risk and liability is legitimate, this should not impede the way in which we approach recovery.

Varying degrees of risk
Consider that there exist different kinds of risk. Where this refers to potential harm to a person recovering from addiction, it's useful to remember that most people in treatment do not present a risk to themselves or to others. The role of recovery-oriented services in identifying and appropriately managing risks serves to limit potential problems. By promoting open discussion of people's hopes and aspirations, risks are also actively constrained and informed consent is achieved.

Offering choices
There is a fundamental role for choice in recovery-oriented care. This element of choice necessarily raises the spectre of risk. We know that there is still work to be done to better evidence reliable methods of recovery, but within the existing and well-established framework of recovery, choices do not go unchecked.

Room to learn
As with any illness and treatment, a recovering patient can jeopardise their treatment for substance misuse independently of their care provider. It remains the practitioner's responsibility to set clear objectives for recovery and to delineate the risks, as well as to help the patient manage the risk inherent in these. 

Most importantly, we believe that imposing a risk averse culture stifles a pattern of natural growth wherein people are permitted to make mistakes and, most importantly, to learn from them. Being patient-led permits room for individual choices, and encourages personal development within care.


This series refers to 'A practical Guide to Recovery Orientated Practice' by Davidson et al, published by Oxford University Press 2009.

Who's Tweeting about this:

RT @DelphiMedical: Our new blog looks at the 'risky business' of drug and alcohol recovery. Is there room to learn? http://t.co/BicRfoYrAR by @UKRF on 21/05/2013 13:13:06
Our new blog looks at the 'risky business' of drug and alcohol recovery. Is there room to learn? http://t.co/BicRfoYrAR by @DelphiMedical on 21/05/2013 12:51:05
RT @DelphiMedical: Our new blog looks at the 'risky business' of drug and alcohol recovery. Is there room to learn? http://t.co/BccGUzdJZ6 by @ADFQ on 22/05/2013 06:40:19
RT @DelphiMedical: Our new blog looks at the 'risky business' of drug and alcohol recovery. Is there room to learn? http://t.co/jVaU4HwbwM by @AusWinterSchool on 22/05/2013 06:40:19