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Beyond Treating the Addiction

Posted byWritten by Patrick

When only 10-20% of our health can be attributed to clinical care, it’s time to go beyond just treating the addiction. A whole-person addiction care approach includes assessing and addressing a person’s recovery capital to improve outcomes.    

Treatment alone does not produce the health outcomes we expect. It is incomplete. The above statistic is a call to treat beyond the addiction itself. In the addiction recovery field, it’s a call to address a person’s recovery capital. 

  • A study by the New England Healthcare Institute cites 50% of health status is determined by behavior (diet, exercise, smoking, stress, and safety); 20% by environment (where you live and work); 20% by genetics; and just 10% by access to health care. 

    • The University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute shows similar distribution from their County Rankings Model (2014). 

  • More work is being done to integrate social determinants of health (SDOH) into clinical care. Social determinants are the non-medical, non-clinical factors like behavior, financial wellness, work, housing, social mobility, nutrition, and education.

The Importance of Recovery Capital

  • To assess a person’s recovery capital is to assess their social determinants of health. 

  • Recovery capital is defined as “the breadth and depth of internal and external resources that can be drawn upon to initiate and sustain recovery from severe [alcohol and other drug] problems.” Built on decades of social capital research, recovery capital identifies those aspects of a person’s life which influence health and well-being.

  • Measuring recovery capital gives addiction recovery organizations information they can use to tailor programing and interventions to address the whole person.

Beyond Treating the Addiction

  • The Recovery Capital Index (RCI) provides practitioners insight into an individual’s self-perception across three domains and 22 indicators, all of which have been proven to affect recovery:

  • These patient-reported observations reveal opportunities to direct patients to specific community resources, housing assistance, or job opportunities as needed. And in the aggregate, they can tell organizations whether their programs and interventions are working and to consider changes if they are not.

  • The RCI also gives addiction and recovery organizations the ability to assess and address these outcomes and determinants over time, post-discharge. They help answer the big question: Did the treatment stick? 


  • A patient’s lived experience outside of direct therapy needs to be measured.

  • Recovery Capital provides the non-clinical measures needed to see whether a person’s quality of life and well-being is improving.

  • It is also empowering to the patients themselves. They can see and experience clinicians and organizations that care about their whole well-being while working to treat their addiction and find lasting recovery. 

Recovery intelligence helps uncover ways of treating beyond just the addiction. Learn how Commonly Well provides impactful recovery intelligence through patient-reported analytics, behavioral insights, and predicted outcomes for addiction treatment on our blog

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