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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Recovery from addiction as a joint and gendered project : an action theoretical study Graham, Matthew Donald


This qualitative study described the process of addiction recovery as it unfolded within close relationships and delineated the ongoing impact of gender on this process. The sample included five dyads that identified as being in a close-relationship and at least one of whom that self-identified as being in addiction recovery. The guiding research questions underlying the process included, “how do persons in close-relationships form and enact joint goals of addiction recovery?” and, “how are addiction-recovery projects gendered?” Data was collected using the qualitative action project method and participants were asked to describe how they came to view themselves as in recovery, what they were doing together to achieve recovery goals and how they each viewed his or her gender as impacting the ongoing process. Processes were identified and clarified in the form of joint projects and were monitored over approximately three months. Data analysis was based on the processes outlined as part of the qualitative action-project method (Young, Valach, & Domene, 2005) and informed by Stake’s (2005) instrumental case study method. The research findings yielded five detailed action-theoretically informed narrative descriptions of each dyad’s recovery project including the impact of gender on each case. Assertions about the addiction recovery process and the gendered nature of recovery were presented at the end of each case (Stake, 1995). Five overall (key) assertions about addiction recovery, as experienced by these participants, were drawn from a cross case analysis. Findings identified that addiction recovery was an inherently relational process and that when relationship goals and processes were going well these could supercede recovery goals and processes. The findings also identified that addiction recovery was gendered and gender role flexibility was identified as helpful for addiction recovery. Assertions drawn from the study indicated that addiction recovery would lose its meaning without consideration of its interdependency with close relationship and work-vocational pursuits. Although the research design precludes generalizing from the data, the knowledge generated herein may be helpful to others in the fields of psychology, social work, psychiatric nursing, and related health care disciplines, at the levels of education, training, and practice.

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