Learning from the Lived Experience of Addicts in Recovery: How to Obtain and Retain Recovery

Graduation Date


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Document Form


Degree Name

Master of Science



Department or Program Chair

Barbara Ganley, PhD

Thesis Advisor

Luanne Linnard-Palmer, EdD, RN


The devastation of addiction and the transformation of recovery are best explained by experienced experts - the recovering addicts themselves. In this phenomenological study nine participants with over seventeen years of abstinence describe their journey from addiction to recovery. Two theories were joined by the researcher to construct a conceptual framework that highlighted certain segments of these unique journeys like points on a map. The foundational theory is the Transtheoretical Model of Change (Prochaska & DiClemente, 1983). When combined with Mezirow's Transformative Learning Theory (2000), the process whereby participants profoundly changed their perspective from the stage of precontemplation through the stage of maintenance was explained. Three or four themes were identified during each stage that best marked the course of development for the participants within each stage. The stage of maintenance was accessed by the respondents only after they had experienced transformative learning and changed their frame of reference. Other researchers are encouraged to explore this conceptual framework and the associated themes further to assess the usefulness in addiction treatment.

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