‘That's got me to where I am today’: examining the role of social capital in rural recovery

Laura C. Palombi, Andrew Irish, Elizabeth A. Bowen, Lucas Kosobuski, Nathaniel Shin Yun Chen, Amanda N Hawthorne, Emily Becher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Substance use and associated fatalities are disproportionately experienced by rural communities, where there is an urgent need to understand and facilitate the recovery process. The concept of social capital is a critical one for recovery from a substance use disorder, even more so for individuals living in rural communities who experience unique social connection barriers. This study used Consensual Qualitative Research methodology to analyze data from a convenience sample of 12 focus groups conducted with individuals in short- and long-term recovery in rural Minnesota and Michigan, in the Midwestern region of the United States. Coding and analysis focused specifically on the ways that participant recovery was aided by positive social capital and hindered by negative social capital. Key findings included the supportive role that recovery communities can play in the recovery process and the unique challenges that rural individuals face in re-creating their social networks to support their recovery. Recovery networks such as self-help groups, treatment courts, or clinical supports, were a frequently mentioned source of social capital. The results of this study suggest that rural residents draw from, and contend with, a vast range of positive and negative sources of social capital for recovery. Increasing nonsubstance using personal social networks for recreation and emotional support, strengthening involvement in recovery communities, reducing feelings of social isolation, introducing chances for service and contribution to others, and reducing community stigma are key actionable leverage points.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)268-278
Number of pages11
JournalAddiction Research and Theory
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This project was supported in part by an Innovation Lab grant from the University at Buffalo Clinical and Translational Science Institute.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Rural
  • addiction
  • community
  • recovery capital
  • social capital
  • substance use disorder
  • treatment


Dive into the research topics of '‘That's got me to where I am today’: examining the role of social capital in rural recovery'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this