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Title: Couple relationships in the context of heroin use
Author: Workman, Paul
ISNI:       0000 0004 7973 2510
Awarding Body: University of East Anglia
Current Institution: University of East Anglia
Date of Award: 2019
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Background: Recent prevalence studies of opiate users within England estimate there to be over 250,000. Opiate users make up 53% of people in drug treatment services. Although retention in treatment improves treatment outcomes, dropout rates remain high. Intimate relationships may be an influential factor in opiate users' treatment and recovery, however limited research has been conducted to understand the experiences of opiate using couples (relationships where both members use opiates). This project sought to examine how these relationships are experienced and how they may influence individuals' attempts to reduce opiate use. Design: This portfolio reports a meta-ethnographic approach to the synthesis of the qualitative literature on the relationship experiences of opiate using couples; and an empirical study exploring the lived experience of individuals in treatment for opiate use whilst their opiate using partner is not in treatment. This study adopted an Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis method. Results: The systematic review synthesised findings from 27 studies, developing six high order themes; centrality of opiate use to the relationship, stabilising and destabilising features of the relationship, relationship and addiction reinforcers, negotiating treatment, and gendered power dynamics. The empirical paper produced themes of how opiate users in treatment rationalise but also re-evaluate their relationship, whilst conceptualising their recovery and experiencing a disruption to their sense of identity. Conclusion: The systematic review suggests that opiate use plays a complex and reciprocal role within couple relationships, and also demonstrates how individuals may negotiate treatment and recovery from within opiate using relationships. The empirical paper posits that individuals in treatment for opiate use undergo a number of challenges in optimising their treatment experience, and illuminate the dilemmas faced by individuals when remaining in their relationship whilst simultaneously reducing their opiate use.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Clin.Psy.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available