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Title: An exploration of choice in heroin addiction : an interpretative phenomenological analysis of a small sample of people in recovery
Author: Barros, Fernanda A.
Awarding Body: Middlesex University/New School of Psychotherapy and Counselling (NSPC)
Current Institution: Middlesex University
Date of Award: 2013
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This research investigates the subjective experience of choice in heroin addiction. The aims were to investigate the perceived degree of control participants felt they had in relation to heroin use, and the impact this had on their lives. The idea of choice is the main aspect distinguishing the free-will model from the medical model in the field. Seven participants were interviewed for this study, two females and five males. The participants were recovering heroin addicts with length of recovery varying from 2 months to 7 years from different ethnicities and socially disadvantaged backgrounds. These were recruited and interviewed in two different 12 Step Model recovery centres. The analysis adopted Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) as its qualitative approach as this was found to be most suitable for the experiential focus of this study’s question. The main themes were; ‘not belonging’, ‘heroin both gives and robs one’s identity’ and ‘lack of control leads to recovery.’ This research illustrates the limited choices the participants faced in their lives and how change was only possible through acknowledging one’s emotional response to a particular situation, rather than a cognitive response; whilst the participants took drugs to numb their emotions, it became impossible to make different choices in their lives. The importance of issues of identity, belonging and trauma were findings consistent with previous literature in the field of addiction. Recommendations for future research focus on a mixed methodology research showing the link between emotions and choices in reframing someone’s experience of addiction. Further recommendations would be a focused study on the impact of time in addiction and how the existential approach can contribute to enhancing treatment choices. By looking at how the existential phenomenological approach contributes to the field this research highlights possible preventative issues. The lack of choice is not attributed to disease but rather to a complex set of circumstances illustrated by the participant’s interviewed. The implication for those working in the field is to open up choices by focusing on how emotions are the primary way of changing and reinterpreting one’s life.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Psych.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available