UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Drinker identity : a case of unintentionality? Uscola, Colter J.


In this thesis, I investigate the assumption made by identity development theorist that individuals intentionally construct and maintain a culturally valued self as they consider identity relevant goals and beliefs. Though this logic makes sense for positive identities—doctor, parent, or scientist—it becomes questionable when applied to construction of negative, or stigmatized, identities, such as that of a drinker. By interviewing 16 members of a metropolitan recovery community, I focus on how marginalized identities of alcohol misuse form absent of goal-based intention. In doing so, I show how stress processes and negative messaging from guardians, peers, and community members produce persistent painful emotions that contribute to psychological distress, hinder positive identity formation, and steer individuals toward spaces of consumption. Through each lost socially valued role, the drinker identity becomes more salient, achieving more importance in daily life and becoming central to individuals’ lives. More broadly, I advance current theoretical assumptions that dominated intervention strategies and recovery policy for decades.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International