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Title: Capitalising upon the physical : exercise and addiction recovery
Author: Fitzgerald, Chris M.
ISNI:       0000 0004 7431 1143
Awarding Body: University of Sheffield
Current Institution: University of Sheffield
Date of Award: 2017
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The investigation underpinning this thesis explored the experiences of and perceived benefits for recovering addicts participating in Physical Exercise (PE) as an adjunctive treatment alongside their rehabilitation programme. In the UK there is considerably more sport and exercise provision for marginalised groups such as youth offenders than there is for those in recover. Through critical engagement with current literature and a deconstructing of discourses surrounding addiction, this was found to be an effect of the medical gaze upon the officially propagated conceptualisation of addiction and subsequent research trends. In the real world, recovery is greater than the sum of its parts and the benefits of enjoyable exercise within a positive community setting, entirely subjective. Circuit and yoga classes were made available to residents at a Sheffield residential drug/alcohol rehabilitation center. Residents who attended a minimum of eight classes had consultations with strength and conditioning coaches to identify their individual fitness goals and were given gym memberships. Twenty three of these participants were interviewed in individual and group settings to gain emic (insiders/native) perspectives regarding the possible impact of PE upon their recovery. Nine participants chose to focus upon strength development as their training goal and joined Sheffield Hallam Universities "Strong Saturdays" program which prepares athletes for the sport of strongman. Four went on to compete. Ethnographic participant observational data was gathered throughout. The recovery capital model of addiction was altered to include embodied (physical) capital alongside economic, social, cultural and human capital to make sense of findings in terms of habitus development in the fields of chaotic addiction, recovery and of exercise. A thematic analysis of data highlighted decreased recovery capital related to alienation, violence, poverty and child abuse as key features of the field of chaos. Recovery was characterised as centered upon reforming the habitus. The increased confidence, fitness, strength, positive body image, self-efficacy and decreased levels of anxiety and stress attributed to PE were also found to aid positive habitus development. The role of community exercise environments as potential "third places" where recovery capital can be fostered represents a key finding. The organic nature of this research led to a series of further positive outcomes for the services and participants involved including qualifications, paid employment, funding and the formation of a charity.
Supervisor: Burr, Jennifer ; Everson-Hock, Emma ; Coats, Elizabeth Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available