Recovering from addiction is a complex and dynamic process. To effectively help people reach their recovery goals, we must consider all of the factors within their life that could promote or deter their recovery.
Recovery capital captures the full spectrum of resources that impact an individual's recovery — from their family and friends, to their housing and finances, to their health and cultural traditions.
The Multidimensional Inventory of Recovery Capital (MIRC) is a new reliable and valid measure of recovery capital — a powerful tool that can help clinicians and social workers better support clients in recovery. For researchers, the MIRC is a crucial step to advancing our understanding of how different sources of capital facilitate recovery.
Finally, for individuals in recovery, the MIRC can help you reflect on the resources you have to improve your well-being and sustain your recovery.
The MIRC was created by a multidisciplinary team of researchers — led by Elizabeth Bowen, PhD, associate professor in the University at Buffalo School of Social Work — with funding from the U.S. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Read more about the MIRC and their research.
To use the MIRC, download an accessible PDF at the link below, which includes instructions for how to score the measure. For best results, please open the measure in Firefox, Safari or Microsoft Edge.
Total scores on the MIRC can range from 28 to 112, with lower scores indicating less recovery capital and higher scores indicating more recovery capital. Since this is a new measure, the researchers are still gathering data on how people score on it. In the study developing the MIRC, the average total score was 77.4, with a standard deviation of 13.1.
In addition to your total score, look at your score on the four subscales (social, physical, human and cultural capital), each of which can range from 7 to 28.
Keep in mind: The MIRC is not an indicator of who will "succeed" in recovery. It is a way of looking at the resources you have to support your recovery (positive capital) and the things in your life that might make recovery more challenging (negative capital).
We suggest using your MIRC score to reflect on this balance: How can you continue to build on your strengths in terms of positive social, physical, human and cultural capital? How can you reduce your negative capital in each of these areas?
Recovery capital is a term for the different things that help or hinder a person as they recover from problems with alcohol or other drugs.
There are several kinds of recovery capital, including:
Although people often think about recovery capital in terms of positive things that support recovery, recovery capital also includes negative capital, or things that deter recovery or make it harder. For example, a source of negative social capital could be family members who don’t understand a person’s recovery and might encourage them to continue to use substances.
Recovery capital is based on research conducted more than 20 years ago by Robert Granfield, PhD, a professor of sociology at the University at Buffalo, and William Cloud, a professor in the University of Denver’s Graduate School of Social Work. They were interested in the factors that help people recover, especially those who do so without going to treatment programs or attending self-help groups. Granfield and Cloud developed the theory of recovery capital based on in-depth interviews with this population. Since then, recovery capital has been researched with many groups, including adolescents, older adults, people returning to their communities following incarceration and people living in rural areas.
The Multidimensional Inventory of Recovery Capital, or MIRC, is a tool to measure recovery capital. It measures four types of recovery capital: social, physical, human and cultural. Within each category, the MIRC assesses both positive and negative forms of capital.
Anyone interested in recovery and recovery capital can use the MIRC, including researchers, people working in the addiction treatment field (like therapists, nurses, social workers, psychologists, other clinicians and peer support workers), and people in recovery who want to self-assess their recovery capital.
Elizabeth Bowen, PhD, associate professor in the UB School of Social Work, led a team of researchers in creating the MIRC because of a shared interest in recovery and improving the measurement of recovery capital. As they worked on the MIRC, their priority was to get feedback throughout the process from a diverse range of people in recovery.
The research team developed the MIRC in three phases:
A diverse group of people participated in the research across these three phases, including those from different racial and ethnic groups (Black/African American, White, Native American, Asian and Pacific Islander, Hispanic/Latinx), gender identities, income levels and sexual orientations. In addition, the study included individuals with varying lengths of time in recovery and recovery pathways (for example, people engaged in abstinent recovery and moderate alcohol use, and those who attend treatment and self-help groups and those recovering without these resources).
The final MIRC has good psychometric properties, which means it is a consistent and accurate tool for measuring recovery capital. There is strong reliability for the full MIRC measure (α=.91; ICC=.91) and subscales (α=.65 to .81; ICC=.72 to .92) and good concurrent validity, with correlations ranging from r=.41 to .76 for the MIRC subscales and full scale with related measures.
For a full report on the MIRC's psychometric properties, read the team's paper in Drug and Alcohol Dependence. In addition, their paper in Addiction Research & Theory discusses using qualitative methods to develop the MIRC items.
Co-Investigators and Co-Authors
We would love to hear how you are using the MIRC for self-assessing your recovery capital, in research or in practice with people recovering from addiction. Complete the form below to share your feedback or ask questions about the MIRC.
University at Buffalo School of Social Work. (2023). Identifying and unlocking resources to support recovery: The Multidimensional Inventory of Recovery Capital (MIRC). https://socialwork.buffalo.edu/mirc.
Published May 9, 2023