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Turning points toward drug addiction recovery : contextualizing underlying dynamics of change

Journal Contribution - Journal Article

Background A life course approach recognizes the role of turning points in adding twists and turns in individuals' addiction recovery processes. The notion of certain key life events that trigger turning point experiences offers a valuable theoretical construct for understanding processes of change. The current study aimed to identify turning points and assess the role of contextual dynamics in generating long-term changes, based on lived experiences of persons in drug addiction recovery. Method A qualitative research design was applied using a Lifeline Interview Method (LIM), allowing a retrospective lens to elicit recovery narratives. Purposive sampling was utilized to compose a heterogeneous group of thirty persons in self-defined drug addiction recovery in Flanders (Belgium). An interpretative phenomenological approach was adopted during a thematic analysis, grounding the research claims in respondents' lived experiences. Results Key moments of change that were reported by participants are: (1) adverse drug-induced experiences; (2) becoming a parent; (3) 'hitting rock bottom'; (4) (dis)engagement of social networks and environments; and (5) addiction treatment. The findings illustrate the role of contextual dynamics that can facilitate (or hamper) experiencing these life events as turning points toward change. Conclusions This study contradicts the notion of a single event or turning point causing abrupt changes in individuals' addiction trajectories. Contextual dynamics and meaning-making processes simultaneously influence whether specific life events can facilitate change. Treatment providers, researchers, and policymakers should take into account the process-based, situational, and relational nature of recovery.
ISSN: 1476-7392
Issue: 4
Volume: 30
Pages: 294 - 303
Publication year:2022