Drug policy, rights and ‘new recovery’

N. Thomas

Griffith University, School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, natalie.thomas@griffithuni.edu.au

The ‘New Recovery’ movement is a social movement that aims to advance the rights of people in recovery from problematic drug use. The idea of recovery has also been influential in the policy sphere, as governments in the United Kingdom and the United States have incorporated the concept into drug policy and service design. While the recovery movement has largely focused on rights, citizenship, and empowerment for people in recovery, recovery policy has been considerably more controversial as governments have used it to encourage abstinence-oriented services. During 2012, recovery was the subject of debate in the Australian drug and alcohol field. Drawing on document analysis and interviews with people working in the field, this paper presents an analysis of the reaction to ‘new recovery’ in the Australian context. The paper highlights some of the challenges of defining recovery, the tensions around the role of abstinence versus harm reduction measures in drug services, and broader debates around the rights of people who use drugs.

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