(Final) Response to: New Science, New Dangers

First, I want to say how much I am enjoying this new blog format, the new contributors, and the exchange of ideas. All of the contributors here have strong recovery orientations, but that doesn’t mean there’s no disagreement among us.

So, let’s catch you up:

  1. Austin posted Building a New Science of Recovery
  2. I responded with Response to: Building a New Science of Recovery
  3. Austin responded to my response with New Science, New Dangers; A Response to Concerns

In my first response, I posted that I was finally beginning to understand and come around on the RSRC definition of recovery.

In that post, it was my understanding that this was not a definition for the masses. I had understood it to be an attempt to operationalize recovery with a very wide net for research purposes as a way to better understand the boundaries of recovery. I guess I believed that definition to be provisional and a starting point.

Austin’s response leads me to believe I (at least partially) misunderstood him and I’ve moved back toward my original position spelled out in previous posts.

First, the part I find reassurance in:

…we must see the RSRC definition of recovery as a challenge. A challenge to ourselves, and a challenge to the world. If we (or someone else) say x, y, or z is recovery, or the best kind of recovery, or promotes the best outcomes- then let’s see what the data says. Let’s give everyone an equitable starting point, and go from there. I suspect, if we are capturing robust longitudinal experiences of recovery, the most holistic forms of recovery will take shape. The less holistic, but still useful, will also take shape. The garbage can be left aside.

Now, for the part I find less reassuring. Austin’s gracious response and passionate vision rests upon a “we” of recovering people asserting continued ownership of recovery and resisting co-option by other interests.

This is exactly where my ambivalence grows. It’s not at that I disagree with the “nothing about us without us” theme. At all. However, it’s the “we” and “us” that concerns me. Who is “we” and “us”? And, does it make sense for “we” and “us” to decide when the boundaries of “we” and “us” were just expanded by the definition?

In any case, I think the train’s already left the station and, as a result, I think we’re headed toward people in recovery feeling the need to distinguish themselves from others by creating typologies of recovery.

I’m concerned, but I can imagine it being for the better. I see a dialectic developing here and, while I have misgivings, synthesis is much more likely with someone like Austin leading the charge.