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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Exploring the phenomenon of recovery for chemically dependent women survivors of childhood sexual abuse Oxner, Katherine B.


This study explores the influence of childhood sexual abuse on the recovery process from chemical dependence for women. A feminist perspective is utilized in the qualitative design which elicited rich information from the interviews held with eight women The participants who volunteered, were referred by their counsellors from a Drug and Alcohol residential treatment program and out-patient clinic. The recovery stories as shared by these women were audio taped and the interpretation of their responses was directed by the grounded theory method of data analysis. Two themes emerged from the analysis: 1) Self-Discovery Through Story Sharing and, 2) Symptomatic Relapse, which captured the complex intertwining nature of recovery from chemical dependence where the process is compounded by the aftereffects of childhood sexual abuse trauma. All eight women reported a desire to maintain a drug and alcohol free lifestyle but repeatedly found themselves abusing substances until they understood the connection between their addiction patterns and the aftereffects of being survivors of childhood sexual abuse. Chemical dependence and childhood sexual abuse have been viewed as distinct "treatment" issues, however, these findings suggest the issues be addressed simultaneously if chemical abstinence is to be a realized goal in recovery.

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