Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology


Faculty of Community Services, Education and Social Sciences

First Advisor

Professor Alison Garton


The association between dependent drug use and criminal behaviour is well known. This coupled with evidence about the efficacy of treatment in addressing drug use has led many jurisdictions to incorporate treatment interventions into their criminal justice systems. The aim of these interventions that use the law as a therapeutic agent (known as ‘therapeutic jurisprudence') is to reduce by mandating drug dependent offenders into treatment, future offending. However, within the treatment effectiveness literature there is also evidence of individuals resolving their drug use problems without engagement in treatment. The term ‘natural recovery’ has been used to describe this phenomenon. Research into the processes involved in natural recovery has led to the development of the concept of Recovery Capital. Recovery Capital refers to an individual's pre-existing access to social, community, physical and interpersonal, resources that facilitate and sustain change. In this research the notion of recovery capital was operationalized into a ! 00 item questionnaire that tapped the domains known to constitute recovery capital, namely Physical, Human, Social and Cultural Capitals. The key innovation of this research was to test out the predictive value of Recovery Capital for re-offending in a cohort of 150 drug related offenders. The impact on outcome of Recovery Capital was compared to other known criminogenic, demographic and drug use factors on the recidivism rates over an 18 month follow up period. The research was driven by four hypotheses. The first of these was that there would be a positive association between levels of Recovery Capital and outcome. This hypothesis was upheld. Not only were the levels of recovery significantly associated with outcome. but it was found that for every one point increment in global recovery capital score the risk of re-offending dropped by 5%. The second hypothesis was that the component parts of recovery capital would not be individually influential in determining outcome. This hypothesis was rejected. Each of the constituent components of recovery capital, namely Social, Physical, Cultural and Human, was significantly associated with outcome. The two strongest predictors were found to be Human and Cultural capitals with a one score increment respectively resulting in a 5.4% and a 9.2% decrease in risk of re-offending. The third hypothesis was that the disposition (sentence) handed down by the court would not influence outcome. This hypothesis was upheld. The court dispositions of court mandated treatment, probation, incarceration, Community service order or a fine had no impact on re-offending. The final hypothesis was that recovery capital, when compared to other potential predictive variables would be the strongest predictor. This hypothesis was upheld in that recovery capital. W\hen analysed using multivariate regression, was found, along with age to be the best predictor of outcome. Persons with high, as opposed to low, levels of recovery capital were 80%, less likely to re-offend. The implications of these findings arc that the social embeddedness of an individual, rather than any clinical or judicial intervention, is critical in determining the risk of re-offending. As such recovery capital merits greater investigation and acknowledgement, as a criminogenic variable.