Recovery is no laughing matter – or is it?

Pages167-173
DOIhttps://doi.org/10.1108/MHSI-02-2016-0006
Date08 August 2016
Published date08 August 2016
AuthorAlex Byron Barker,Gary Winship
Recovery is no laughing matter or is it?
Alex Byron Barker and Gary Winship
Alex Byron Barker is a
Research Fellow at the Division
of Clinical Neuroscience,
University of Nottingham,
Nottingham, UK.
Gary Winship is a Professor at
the School of Education,
University of Nottingham,
Nottingham, UK.
Abstract
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to describe an exploratory pilot study to assess the methods used to
evaluate an innovative programme of comedy workshops fora small cohort of people recovering from substance
misuse problems. The comedy workshops involved participants working with a professional comedian to explore,
develop, write and finally perform a stand-up comedy routine drawing from their own personal experiences.
Design/methodology/approach The impact of the programme was gauged using questionnaires; the
Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Well-being Scale, the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale, the General Self-Efficacy,
Scale and the Life Orientation Test-Revised and Eco-Mapping Tool.
Findings Ten participants began the programme with four participants following through to public
performance at an evening showcase event. The quantitative measures showed favourable results on three
positive outcome measures; psychological well-being, self-esteem and self-efficacy. Participants number of
social relationships and strength of relationships decreased following the intervention, however, relationships
were more mutual and were characterized by less conflict following the workshop.
Research limitations/implications The small sample limits generalization of this study, but the methods
for data collection were found to be feasible. Preliminary findings suggest that the workshops have a positive
impact on recovery.
Originality/value This paper describes an evaluation of an innovative programmeof comedy workshops for
people recovering from substance abuse problems. The preliminary findings point to a new hypothesis about
recovery, that successful recovery might be characterized by a smaller social net work, with stronger mutual bonds.
Keywords Social identity, Intervention, Comedy, Psychological well-being, Self-confidence
Paper type Research paper
Introduction
The 2012 government strategy for substance use, Putting Full Recovery First (UK Government,
2012), arguesfor a recovery-focused approach by maximizingrecovery capital. Social capitalis an
importantfacet of recovery, that is to say, enablingpeople to extend their social networkswith new
healthy and stable relationships. Increasing the stability and quality of social relationships is an
outcome for people in recovery who develop new communities and friendship circles where
positive social contacts can increase psychological well-being (Turner, 1981), where an individual
can move towards findingmeaning and reclaiming a chosen life and placein society (Chamberlin,
1988). Socialgroupings and peer relations are the basisof social identity (Haslam et al., 2008) and
these provide connectedness to others which is the essential process of emotional well-being
(Jetten and Panchana,2012). Positive social networks have been shownto improve resilience to
stress (King et al., 1998), and this may be a factor in relapse prevention. In regards to supporting
recovery, services aim to help people to develop the skills to prevent relapse, rebuild broken
relationships orforge new ones, actively engagingpeople in meaningful activities where they take
steps to making a home and providing for themselves and others in a sustainable way (The
Scottish Government, 2008). However, there is a paucity of research exploring the process of
recovery with most studies into the efficacy of treatments for people with substance abuse
problems focus on outcomes with abstinenceand often equated to recovery (Dutra et al., 2008).
DOI 10.1108/MHSI-02-2016-0006 VOL. 20 NO. 3 2016, pp. 167-173, © Emerald Group Publishing Limited, ISSN 2042-8308
j
MENTALHEALTH AND SOCIAL INCLUSION
j
PAG E 16 7

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