Social and personal identity projects in the recovery from addictive behaviours

  • Koski-Jännes A
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This study is focused on the long-term changes in identity revealed by the accounts of people who have managed to quit their addictive behaviours. The views of Rom Harre (1983, Personal being. Oxford: Basil Blackwell) are used as the theoretical frame of reference in analysing these accounts. According to Harre, there are two central projects in identity formation. One involves the appropriation of a social identity that secures an honourable position among fellow human beings. The other one involves finding and defending one's unique personal identity. This qualitative study aims to display the relevance of these processes in the recovery from addictive behaviours. The subjects (n = 76) were media-recruited individuals who had managed to quit their addictions and maintain the change for more than three years. Qualitative and quantitative methods were used to gather data on their recovery. The relevance of social and personal identity projects in their recovery is displayed in case descriptions. Similar trends are also identified in other subjects. Differences between treated and untreated recovery and the following identity work are also discussed. The results of the study suggest that the changes in identity are not limited only to the resocialisation or normalisation of former addicts but they also involve attempts to rind more personally satisfying and authentic modes of being in the world. It is suggested that the observed identity work might be essential for solidifying the change and providing meaning for a sober lifestyle.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Identity projects
  • Personal identity
  • Recovery from addiction
  • Social identity

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  • Anja Koski-Jännes

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