Building addiction recovery capital through online participation in a recovery community

Ana-Maria Bliuc, David Best, Muhammad Iqbal, Katie Upton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Citations (Scopus)
403 Downloads (Pure)


This study examines how online participation in a community of recovery contributes to personal journeys of recovery. It investigates whether recovery capital building – as indicated by increased levels and quality of online social interactions – and markers of positive identity development predict retention in a recovery program designed around fostering community involvement for early stage recovery addicts.

It was predicted that online participation on the group's Facebook page and positive identity development are associated to retention in the program.

To map how participants interact online, social network analysis (SNA) based on naturally occurring online data (N = 609) on the Facebook page of a recovery community was conducted. Computerised linguistic analyses evaluated sentiment of the textual data (capturing social identity markers). Linear regression analyses evaluated whether indicators of recovery capital predict program retention. To illustrate the findings in the context of the specific recovery community, presented are two case studies of key participants who moved from the periphery to the centre of the social network. By conducting in-depth interviews with these participants, personal experiences of engagement in the online community of group members who have undergone the most significant changes since joining the community are explored.

Retention in the program was determined by a) the number of comment 'likes' and all ‘likes' received on the Facebook page; b) position in the social network (degree of centrality); and c) linguistic content around group identity and achievement.

Positive online interactions between members of recovery communities support the recovery process through helping participants to develop recovery capital that binds them to groups supportive of positive change.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)110-117
Number of pages8
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2017


  • Online social interactions
  • Recovery capital
  • Social identity
  • Recovery community


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